Dame Joanna Lumley was confronted by angry farmers after speaking about the meat and dairy industries at an event in Oxford.
The 75-year-old actor and campaigner, who has been a vegetarian since 1970, discussed the cruelty of animal farming while giving a talk on “The True Meaning of Compassion” at Oxford Literary Festival.
As reported by the Telegraph, she said: ”Farming animals is the greatest source of animal cruelty on the planet.
“The magnitude of it, you can’t even imagine it – 80 billion of them are slaughtered every year.”
Lumley was speaking at the event on behalf of charity Compassion in World Farming, of which she is a patron. She said that the organization was urging people to “eat less dairy, eat less meat, it’s bad for you, it’s bad for the animals, and it’s bad for the planet.”
After she had given her speech, a farmer stood up to respond to her words.
Our fantastic Patron Dame Joanna Lumley will shortly be speaking on ‘The True Meaning of Compassion’ at @oxfordlitfest. She’ll be discussing her love of animals with @philip_ciwf, & how this has led to Joanna being involved with decades of animal welfare campaigning. pic.twitter.com/aM7Jsyg1L2— Compassion in World Farming (@ciwf) April 2, 2022
“Could I just speak up on behalf of a farming family in Warwickshire who farms so beautifully?” she said. “That’s my experience of over 70 years of being in farming.”
“Everybody I know farms with compassion. Please don’t mark farmers as all bad people because they are not. Without farms, it is a very, very sad world.”
Lumley responded by saying that she hoped her speech had not been “insulting to fine farmers,” adding that her comments had been about factory farming.
She was also addressed by another audience member from a farming family, who said she had “heard so much negative stuff today,” adding: “Where you all want to walk and enjoy, is farmland.”
Lumley said that her speech had been too short to discuss all farming-related issues in-depth.
Dame Lumley previously opened up about her decision to go vegetarian in an interview with The Times last year, saying: “I don’t like the idea of any creature having to lose its life to keep me alive.”
She also supported this year’s Veganuary campaign, saying she was “in awe” of those signing up to go vegan for the month of January.