Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn disagreed with his farming minister Kerry McCarthy’s call to treat meat eaters like smokers via a public advertising campaign, as further splits in the shadow cabinet emerged.
McCarthy, a vegan whose appointment ruffled a fair few farmers’ feathers, had previously told vegan magazine Viva!life that meat should be treated like tobacco, the smoking of which has been campaigned against through government advertising over the last few years.
Yet in an interview with ITV News, Corbyn demurred from her plans, saying:
“I am a vegetarian. I personally don’t eat meat and haven’t for a very very long time. I think meat eaters, if they wish to carry on eating meat, that’s up to them to do so. I don’t stop people eating meat indeed many people that I know very well eat meat often in front of me and I tolerate it with the normal decency, courtesy and respect that you would expect from me.”
In the past McCarthy has described herself as a “militant” vegan, and has been refusing meat and dairy products for the past 20 years, as well as practising vegetarianism for a decade prior to that.
In her interview with Viva!life she said:
“I really believe that meat should be treated in exactly the same way as tobacco, with public campaigns to stop people eating it. Progress on animal welfare is being made at EU level … but in the end it comes down to not eating meat or dairy.”
When quizzed on her views on BBC Radio 4, McCarthy said the world was not going to “turn vegan” while she was in post, adding:
“I have my own personal views on what I choose to eat, but I accept that we have a livestock industry in this country. What I want is for the industry to have the best welfare standards possible, to be sustainable as well as economically viable.”
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the lobby group the Countryside Alliance, said McCarthy’s ideas were “verging on the cranky”, and were “completely out of step with the vast majority of people.”
Image Credit – Two lion cubs eat meat, October 2010 by Tambako the Jaguar