The letter was penned by Veganuary – the global pledge to try vegan for January and beyond. It says that widespread dietary change will ‘help fight climate chaos and prevent future pandemics’.
Other signatories include Jane Goodall, Chris Packham, Paul McCartney, Alan Cumming, Evanna Lynch, MP Kerry McCarthy, and campaign groups Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth, among many other individuals.
According to Veganuary, the letter ‘sets out the very clear connection between climate change, global pandemics and our consumption of animal products’.
It 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.”
‘A better future’
But according to Veganuary, the letter also ‘offers hope for a better future’, urging everyone ‘to go into 2021 with positivity and a determination to do all we can to protect our planet, its wild spaces and the health and wellbeing of all its inhabitants’. To do this, the organization says, we must change our diets.
The joint letter 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.”
Veganuary 2021 is on course to be the biggest year in the organization’s history, with more than 260,000 official sign-ups so far – double the number as at the same time last year.
Veganuary shared the news that sign-ups had already passed a quarter of a million on Instagram. It said: “WOW! 250,000 people have already signed up to try vegan with Veganuary this January! Will you help us double it?
“Nominate someone to do Veganuary this year by TAGGING them in the comments below. Thank you to every one who has signed up so far. Join us this January. Click the link in our bio (it’s free)?”