Reading Time: 2 minutes A number of MPs have signed Veganuary's open letter calling on people to take a month-long vegan pledge
Reading Time: 2 minutes

UK politicians including MP Kerry McCarthy have signed an open letter calling on the public to try a vegan diet.

Veganuary – the organization behind the global pledge to try vegan for January and beyond – wrote the letter which it says ‘sets out the very clear connection between climate change, global pandemics and our consumption of animal products’.

The letter calls for widespread dietary change, which it says would help tackle climate change. It also brands factory farming ‘squalid’ and says they are ‘breeding grounds’ for the next pandemic.

Open letter signatories

Politicians who signed the letter include MPs Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavillion), Kerry McCarthy (Labour, Bristol East), Henry Smith (Conservative, Crawley), and Christina Rees (Labour, Neath). 

Other politicians to sign the letter include Baroness Jenny Jones and Jonathon Bartley, the co-leader of the Green Party.

The letter was also signed by a number of celebrities, athletes, business people, and NGOs. These include Ricky Gervais, Bryan Adams, Jane Goodall, Chris Packham, and Paul McCartney among others. Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth also signed.

Vegan diet

The letter says: “Animal agriculture is responsible for an estimated 14.5 percent of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Oxford University researchers found that almost every animal product creates far more emissions than almost every plant product. Quite simply, we cannot tackle climate change while we farm and eat animals on an industrial scale.

“Pandemic experts warn that because of overcrowded, squalid conditions, factory farms – especially chicken farms – are breeding grounds for the next global pandemic (1). Already these farms have given us H1N1 (swine flu) and H5N1 (avian flu), the latter having a 60 percent mortality rate (2).

“More than one billion tonnes of food must be grown to feed the billions of animals we farm3 – far more than is needed if people were to eat plants. That farmland has to come from somewhere, and all too often it is taken from the wild.”

It concludes: “Today, we are urging everyone to help build a better future by signing up to try vegan this January with Veganuary. Together, we can create a world that is kinder and safer for all.”

‘A message of hope’

In a statement sent to Plant Based News, Toni Vernelli, Veganuary’s international head of communications, said: “2020 has brought much hardship and heartbreak, but it has also given us an opportunity to change and build a better future. Our united message is one of hope – but we must all act now.”

Chris Packham, letter signatory and Veganuary ambassador, added: “Trashing the planet does none of us any good, as the coronavirus pandemic shows all too clearly. 

“But we can emerge from this stronger and wiser, with a renewed commitment to protecting the environment, its inhabitants and our own futures. Being vegan is a great way to support the natural world and to live sustainably.”

1. The Guardian

2. Ibid

3. Poultry News

Maria Chiorando

Maria is a news and features writer for Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. She was previously the editor of Plant Based News for over 3 years.