The vegans who bought beef

Opening poultry, or any other, farms can lead to both short- and long-term benefits, as one U.K. producer discovered.

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(Ove Tøpfer |
(Ove Tøpfer |

Why on earth would vegans buy beef?

We hear all too often that consumers do not understand agriculture, are ignorant of how farmers treat animals and of farming’s negative impact on the environment.

This may all be true, but what’s the point in complaining if you are not prepared to something about it. This is exactly what a beef farmer in the U.K. did with some pretty positive results.

A participant in LEAF Open Farm Sunday, which seeks to show the public firsthand what it means to be a farmer and the work that farmers do to produce food, the farmer opened his farm to the public.

For some, allowing a group of vegans onto a farm may sound alarm bells. I’ve attended events where farmers have been encouraged not to allow anyone onto their farms unless directly involved in the business. In this case, however, the results were more than positive. The farmer, who also had a shop on-site, reported that after seeing the farm his vegan visitors bought cuts of beef.

What changed?

The visitors reported that they were following a vegan diet for environmental reasons but that, having spent time on the farm, and having learned more about it, they had a much greater understanding of how cattle were raised, and this made them think differently. A great shame that they did not buy chicken, but you see my point.

The example may come from the U.K, but the principle is applicable anywhere.

Investment in knowledge pays the best interest

Annabel Shackleton, Manager of LEAF and Open Farm Sunday says that much of U.K. food production aligns with today’s consumers’ values, particularly from an environmental and welfare perspective and that farms should cast aside any hesitation that they may have and welcome the public in.

This allows positive stories to be told that can influence visitors’ conversations with their friends and ultimately influence purchasing decisions.

The organizers of LEAF Open Farm Sunday, which has helped over 1,600 farmers in the U.K to open their farms attracting over 2.7 million visitors, offer participants a number of resources to help make visits a success. The next Open Farm Sunday is due to take place this year on June 12 and its website offers wide range of ideas and case studies that may offer inspiration for anyone who wants to show what farming is really all about.


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