DATELINE: The Vegan Wars

What’s behind the rise of extreme vegan activists? This week we meet a third-generation dairy farmer who’s been called a rapist and a murderer and the Australian vegan activist kicking up a storm in the UK.
Dean CornishNaima Brown

You’ve heard of militant religious and political groups – but have you heard of militant vegans?

Australians are the second biggest meat eaters in the world, the biggest exporters of red meat, and our dairy industry is worth $13.7 billion – but we are also the world’s third fastest growing vegan market.

In the UK a dramatic rise in veganism has led to clashes between those who want all animal products banned and the livestock farmers whose way of life is under threat – and it’s getting nasty.

This week on Dateline, reporter Dean Cornish meets the British farmer who’s been called a “rapist and a murderer” – and received kidnap threats against his two young children – and the Australian-born vegan activist Joey Carbstrong, who is kicking up a storm in the UK.

Carbstrong,  an animal liberation activist and social media personality who has made it his life’s work to abolish the meat and dairy trade. He believes that farmers are ‘playing god’ with the lives of animals and consumers who are ultimately responsible.

“Animals are not willing participants in any of this”, explains Carbstrong.

“The farmers are determining when they will die. They are being chopped up into pieces and served to us as consumers. What I want consumers to understand is that they are the most key player in all of this. Without their money, these industries do not exist.”

Patrick Hutchinson, CEO of the Australian Meat Industry Council, says it’s easy for vegans like Joey Armstrong to ignore the benefits of an $18 billion industry.

“He doesn’t have to care about anybody but himself. He doesn’t care about working families, he doesn’t care about working Australians, he doesn’t care about anybody else but himself and the outcome that he’s looking for, period.”

More than 56 billion farm animals are slaughtered globally each year, and that number is expected to rise as the human population booms.

Animal agriculture is responsible for roughly 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and 80 per cent of the world’s deforestation.

With the rise of veganism, the future of the meat and dairy industries are uncertain.