THE shift towards more plant-based diets and ways of living has divided opinion and created a wide debate around the future production of food.

The first Wyre Forest Green Party councillor has encouraged people to move towards a plant-based diet and suggested farmers could alter what they produce in the future.

Councillor Vicky Caulfield said she is on her way to becoming a vegan, and has echoed her party’s green agenda and new policy which aims to create benefits for the environment, human health and animal welfare.

New Green Party policy calls for a shift towards more plant-based foods to increase healthier food options, enforce animal welfare legislation and reduce animal cruelty.

Vicky said she feels veganism “will have an impact on farmers and will encourage them to grow something else.”

She said: “We don’t want people to lose their livelihoods. But we have to find a way of addressing this.

“I would like to encourage people to move towards a more plant-based diet.”

Ledbury Reporter:

Oliver Cartwright, from the National Farmers Union, said: “65 per cent of UK farmland is only suitable for growing grass and grazing livestock and we can’t grow fruit, vegetables and cereals on much of our grassland and uplands, which is a landscape shaped by generations of livestock farmers.”

In relation to the meat and dairy industry he added: “The NFU is not anti-vegan, what people eat is a matter for the individual, but what aggrieves many farmers is how their industry is portrayed, usually by a small, vocal minority, in a way that does not reflect the reality of UK food production.

“We stand by our high production, welfare and environmental standards.”

Young farmer Michael Pratt, aged 27, one of the owners of Leapgate farm in Stourport, has expressed his thoughts on veganism.

“We are a working farm with over 200 cattle here, also sheep and pigs and other different types of poultry,” he said.

“Veganism - it’s a strong point at the moment. There’s no problem with being vegan, veggie, or a meat eater. All I would say is if you do want to protest, do not mess with farmers’ livestock and respect farmers. It’s their livelihood.

"I don't think a farm is something that just grows fruit and vegetables. Local farmers in the livestock trade would want to go into that."

Michael feels that the enjoyment of farming comes from looking after the animals and making sure they are well treated.

He added: "We love animals and we are animal people."

Ledbury Reporter:

Earlier in the year, an animal sanctuary near Kidderminster received a welcome donation from a farmer who had a change of heart.

A Sri Lankan farmer, known as Kumar, drove 200 miles from Devon to Goodheart Animal Sanctuaries to donate his flock of lambs, which he was about to sell to slaughter.

He said at the time: “In Sri Lanka my parents ran a dairy farm and all the animals were our pets - they provided our livelihood. I used to eat lamb but not anymore, I’m a vegetarian now. I’ll still be farming, and I’ll grow vegetables. It was a difficult decision to make, but the right one.”

Ledbury Reporter:

Out of 50 Shuttle readers who took part in our Twitter poll 72 percent said they would not consider going vegan, 18 percent said they would consider going vegan, and 10 per cent said they were not sure.