Australia’s new minister for agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, is “[n]ot happy” about vegan meat. In a bizarre tweet, responding to news that a plant-based protein company is stocking its “chicken-free chicken” in Coles, the senator announced:
Not happy with latest fake food push. Chicken-free chicken is not chicken, it’s reconstituted peas. We need to protect our farmers.
Perhaps the senator isn’t aware that peas are grown by farmers, too? Or that farmers who swap animal exploitation for growing crops are part of a growing trend? After sheep and lamb numbers hit a historic low in 2010, wheat and canola plantings increased by 58% and 52%, respectively. Moreover, it’s not just for economic reasons: stories of farmers who switch to growing plants in order to escape the horrors of animal exploitation are becoming common.
A move away from animal exploitation represents an opportunity for farmers to diversify and try more sustainable methods of agriculture.
It’s certainly no secret that it takes many resources to raise animals. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, animal agriculture accounts for about a third of Australia’s freshwater use and takes up 58% of the country’s land mass. It’s also the nation’s leading contributor of greenhouse gases, as 50% of emissions come from that sector.
A shift towards plant-based farming is necessary, not just because of the present drought but also as a way to prevent future inclement weather caused by climate change.
Perhaps the senator could be persuaded to try some vegan chicken and speak up for all Aussie farmers in her new role, as consumers and farmers alike move towards compassionate living.