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Former Ireland President Mary Robinson urged people to go vegan to save the planet at the One Young World summit in The Hague this weekend – despite facing a backlash for making the same request two years ago.

Robinson was reprimanded by her local council which asked her to withdraw the request, and by local farmers who accused her of harming their trade, when she spoke out on the issue in 2016.

But former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stands by what she said, telling almost 2,000 young leaders at this year’s summit that: “Achieving climate justice, I believe, is the space race for your generation.”

Go vegan to save the planet

“I said [in 2016] we all have to do more,” said Robinson. “We have to be more energy-efficient, we have to recycle, we must think about what we eat, we need to eat less meat, maybe become vegetarian or even vegan. And I got a big cheer.

“But, back in my country, Ireland, this didn’t go down too well and it ended up with the local authority in my county in Ireland, Co Mayo, sending me a formal letter asking me to withdraw those words, which I have not done. And I still say, and I still say.

“And the point is we do have to take a stand and we do have to make our voices heard and if people take action themselves, they are much more likely to use their vote and their power to change what government policies are doing.Individual action alone won’t get us there even if we try our hardest; we need government policies.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of 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.