Ten MPs from across the UK have signed up for Veganuary, forming a caucus of the Conservative Party called the Vegan Conservatives.
For most of the members, tackling climate change and improving their health was a key factor behind signing up.
‘Animal welfare concerns’
Crawley’s MP, Henry Smith, who has been vegetarian for more than 30 years took the pledge this January due to ‘animal welfare concerns during the meat production process and its impact on our global environment’.
He added that animal agriculture contributes to 15 percent of worldwide carbon emissions – a figure which is much higher in some studies.
Christian Wakeford, who was elected MP for Bury South last year, said: “I’m delighted to be taking part in Veganuary this year.
“I am very pleased to have been asked by Vegan Conservatives to be involved and am looking forward to adopting a plant-based diet, which I am told is delicious!”
The remaining MPs on the caucus are Andrew Boff, Andrea Jenkyns, Matthew Offord, John Baron, Mark Garnier, James Daly, Dr. Ben Spencer, and Dean Russell.
Also on board is Tracey Crouch, who will adopt a vegan diet one day a week.
‘Reduce pandemic risk’
Speaking for the Vegan Conservatives, Andrew Boff, said: “At the heart of Conservatism is a desire to conserve and protect our environment.
“Moving towards a plant-based food system is critical if we are to prevent dangerous climate change, reduce pandemic risk, and protect animals.”
The launch of the group faced controversy online. A story in The Telegraph branded the caucus as ‘pandering to a trendy cause’.
A former council candidate for The Conservatives, Amir Sadjady took to Twitter to state: “I was an active Conservative member for five years. I don’t remember a week passing by where I wasn’t bullied or ridiculed by other members for being vegan. I don’t believe the intentions of this group are genuine.”
He added: “I don’t think the Conservative Party is ready to accept vegans without discrimination.”
Veganuary, the month-long pledge to go vegan for January and beyond, has welcomed the move.
Co-founder and chair, Matthew Glover, said: “It’s inspiring to see our policymakers taking personal action to protect the planet, reduce the suffering of animals, and help prevent future pandemics.
“Their leadership will hopefully encourage many more people to make a positive change in 2021 and try vegan this January.”
Peter Egan, an ambassador for Veganuary, spoke of going vegan as a way to support small British food producers, adding that it will also help deliver more sustainable food following Brexit.
For more information on the Vegan Conservatives, visit their website.