Reports that demand for beef is decreasing are to be celebrated, according to a leading vegan expert.
This week it was reported by Farmers Weekly that 'most beef farmers are in the red'. A catering expert added that beef farmers in Bristol are being hit by the rise of veganism.
Juliet Gellatley, Viva! Founder and Director, says this is a positive thing - and that farmers should embrace the rise of veganism and the opportunities it offers.
Decrease in beef
According to Alex Demetriou, managing director of Regency which supplies the UK catering industry, demand for beef has fallen by five percent compared to the same time last year.
"It appears as if this has been driven by the vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian movement, which is becoming increasingly popular as a lifestyle choice rather than any kind of trend," Demetriou told Bristol Live.
"There was an increase in slaughtering in the first quarter because of all the uncertainty around Brexit and the potential impact on the beef markets if we had left the EU at the end of March, as intended."?
'Beef farmers in the red'?
Farmers Weekly suggests the problems for beef farmers spread beyond Bristol, claiming falling demand is a result of consumers being 'assaulted by a variety of negative messages about red meat, including warnings over obesity, cancer and the effect of cattle on the environment'.
It says this is leading to falling demand in both the retail and hospitality sectors, and quotes Ulster Farmers Union beef and lamb chairman, Sam Chesney as saying: "I would say most beef farmers are definitely in the red at the moment."
But farmers shouldn't see veganism as a threat, Juliet Gellatley told Plant Based News.
"The decrease in the demand for beef products is something to be celebrated! This is a definite win for the animal rights movement as less demand for beef should, in turn, mean fewer animals are being bred into a life of cruelty and suffering," she said.
"We would encourage farmers not to see veganism as a threat but instead as an opportunity. Vegans eat! And as more and more people change there will be plenty of jobs for farmers!
"In fact, some beef and dairy farmers have already moved over to growing crops, are seeing the immediate benefits, and are helping others to make the switch. Just like any other industry, agriculture must grow and adapt to meet the needs of the public."
Gellatley also spoke about the impact animal agriculture has on the planet, saying it 'affect us all, including farmers'.
"Intensive factory farming is a hugely environmentally destructive industry, with far-reaching impacts on biodiversity, climate change and pollution," she added.
"We have no choice but to move towards a vegan world if the planet is going to survive. So, there is clear incentive and demand for farmers to switch to arable farming — why not join the vegan revolution?"