TV vet backing ‘Veganuary’ trend
ANIMAL welfare practices in the pig and dairy industry is the reason that one vet follows a vegan diet for one month each year.
Well-known Wicklow vet Pete Wedderburn (inset) recently took part in his fourth ‘Veganuary’, following a vegan diet for the month of January. He told the Farming Independent that his issues with practices on pig and dairy farms are why he tries veganism for one month each year.
“Pigs are more intellectual than dogs but if dogs were kept the way pigs are kept in this country, there would be outrage. I really don’t agree with the clipping of pigs tails, it’s not necessary,” he said.
However, IFA Pig chair Thomas Hogan said that “animal welfare is the top priority on every Irish pig farmer’s list”.
“Every pig farmer strives for top animal welfare because if they’re not treated well, they won’t be productive. Their tales are clipped to prevent chewing and they live in a comfortable environment with controlled temperature,” he said.
While Pete says he has friends who are excellent dairy farmers with high levels of animal welfare, he feels the industry could improve when it comes to removing calves from the cow so quickly and issues of lameness.
“I do have concerns about calves being taken away from the cow so fast. I know it’s the traditional weaning system in this country but it could be lengthened,” he explained.
Pete added that his issues with industrial farming were another reason he decided to take part in a part-time vegan diet.
“I’m not a full-time vegan because I think it’s fine to take the life of an animal if they’ve lived a life without fear, pain or anticipation, or they’ve been given the right to carry out natural behaviour,” he says
“When I look out in the fields in Ireland, I can see that animals are content. However, being vegan forces you to check labels in the supermarket and we import so much produce that supports industrial farming. This is something I don’t agree with.”
For Pete the annual vegan diet is about self-exploration and “mindful eating” practices and would encourage others to follow his example. “It’s a process of education and self-exploration for me. I learn something new each year and I think it’s something everyone should try,” he says. “Drastically changing your diet for a month makes you realise what you need and what you don’t need. “Just because you’ve been eating something all your life, doesn’t mean you’ve to keep doing it.”
Farmer’s son Declan Bowens is a vegan who runs an animal; sanctuary near Navan