A new Plant Based News video reveals a showdown between a vegan interviewer and an anti-vegan environmental campaigner.
The interchange, which was filmed during the Extinction Rebellion climate protests in London earlier this year, shows the pair debating the image on animal agriculture on the planet - as well as whether plants are sentient.
"I'm involved in Extinction Rebellion because climate change and general ecological destruction is the greatest challenge that we face," the campaigner says in the video. "It's existential, we have some time to sort it out, but not much and it's an emergency."
When asked about the impact of animal agriculture on the planet, he says: "The moral issue of eating animals aside, there can actually be circumstances in which well-raised meat can be part of a system that is actually ecologically-friendly. Obviously in our current system of factory farming, meat is appalling for the environment, but also is soy."
When the interviewer points out that the majority of soy is fed to livestock, the campaigner says: "In the current system as it is in the moment people should switch to vegan or at least vegetarian largely because factory-farmed meat is so environmentally appalling. I can imagine a system in which an animal is raised well and is killed with respect and a certain sense of sacredness...there's something actually quite sacred about that in a weird way."
When asked whether the animals' experience of death would change because humans see it as sacred, the campaigner replies: "The idea that if you're vegan, you're somehow morally superior because you're relying on mono-crop grain is b*llocks."
"But I suppose the majority of mono-crops do go to feed the animals that we end up eating in the west," says the interviewee.
"I'm not talking about the current system. The current system is complete bullsh*t, complete b*llocks, the idea of feeding any kind of food that humans could eat to animals is obscene. Are you anti-abortion?"
The interviewer says he believes there is a point in the development of the fetus where he stops supporting abortion. At the point, the campaigner accuses him of using the same arguments as anti-abortion advocates.
The campaigner said he was 'trained in how to argue'
Tree rights campaigner
The campaigner then reveals that he is an advocate for nature rights. "The idea that trees and rivers should have legal rights," he explains. "How do you know trees aren't sentient? There is evidence that suggests they do actually feel and understand."
The interviewer says that if you imagine plants are sentient, a vegan lifestyle can reduce their suffering, as so many crops are fed to livestock, that meat eaters indirectly cause the death of more plants.
"Yes, I've told you I don't support the current system," replies the campaigner."
"But in today's world if you went vegan you could save more plants, so why don't you?" he is asked.
"I can't," says the campaigner. "I struggle to cook vegan, and I was losing a lot of weight, and I need to eat better."
"You can choose not to exploit animals," says the interviewer.
"You can choose not to exploit trees," responds the campaigner, who goes on to admit that he does use tree products, but says he likes to 'spend a moment to just touch it and set an intention as to why I'm taking it and to thank it."
Doing your best
The interviewer asks a final question, saying: "If you could live a life doing your best, either not to harm humans, not to harm animals, or not to harm either, which would be inline more with your own morals?"
The campaigner then misunderstands the question, believing that the interviewer is saying he himself doesn't and hasn't ever exploited humans.
"No b*llocks. You exploit humans all the time," he says. "Think of the f*cking humans you exploited to get the clothes you're wearing. Have you thought through all the humans that are exploited to do every single aspect of your life? How dare you even say that you're somehow even morally right? How many humans have you exploited all the time for all your vegan food?"