Dear newly-elected MP,
Congratulations! Whether you’re returning to Parliament, or are a new MP, you have our admiration – it can be a thankless task to go into public service, but you are a vital component of our democracy.
At the Vegan Society, we represent vegans across the UK and the world, and while we know you will have a full inbox as you start this new Parliament, we did want to bend your ear briefly. We want to ask you to do your bit in representing vegans – those of us who have chosen to live without animal exploitation. There are over half a million vegans in the UK, so you will have many vegans in your constituency (and some of your fellow MPs are vegan). By understanding and representing us, you can make the country a better place for animals, for the environment, and for the health of your constituents.
Veganism is on the rise. There are three and a half times more vegans than there were ten years ago. Supermarkets are stocking their shelves with plant milks and other dairy and meat replacements, and vegan restaurants are popping up across the country. There are over 24,000 products which carry our Vegan Trademark. More and more people are embracing a more compassionate and sustainable future.
So, how can you represent vegans’ concerns in Parliament?
The NHS has been at the top of the agenda for much of this election campaign. As you probably know, poor diet is thought to have the biggest impact on the NHS budget, so we hope you’ll address that by promoting a plant-based diet for the good of public health.
You’ve also talked a lot about Brexit. Many farmers are concerned about their livelihoods, so we can support them by encouraging a move away from animal farming, and towards growing plant crops for food; fuel; fibre and other direct human uses. This would significantly cut UK greenhouse gas emissions and mean that our fruit and vegetables are grown much closer to home. You might be interested in working with us on our Grow Green project, and exploring how we can support animal farmers who want to convert to growing crops.
One of the biggest issues that vegans face is around equality – access to the same goods, services and treatment as everyone else. Despite the European Court of Human Rights confirming that vegans should enjoy rights to freedom of thought and conscience; the right to manifest beliefs in teaching and practice; and the right to avoid indirect as well as direct discrimination; many vegans face difficulties in schools, hospitals, the justice system, employment and elsewhere.
You can help to address this by ensuring that vegan school children are not discriminated against by the school milk plan. Funding free fortified plant milk to match the dairy milk offering is the fair thing to do.
Next you could help us to access vegan friendly medication. Around 75% of the most commonly prescribed medicines contain animal derived ingredients which is a problem for millions of people in our society. We’d be delighted if you would support the provision of animal-free alternatives to commonly used prescription products.
We also think that the UK should catch up with Portugal, who have introduced a law which compels all canteens in public sector institutions to provide a vegan option. A simple but important measure to guarantee that vegans are catered for.
Lastly, it will be no surprise for you to hear that vegans, along with 84% of the population, believe that fox hunting should remain illegal. Animals suffer needlessly in the name of sport and entertainment and we’d like to discuss new laws to address this.
This might all seem like a big ask, but the good news is you are not alone. We have a recently-established APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) to exchange ideas and concerns relating to vegan and vegetarian issues. We would love to welcome you as a member to discuss legislation change to build a more vegan friendly society.
One thing all MPs agree on is that the key to success is listening – listening to constituents, to colleagues, and yes, listening to those on the other side of the debate. So, whether you’re currently engaged with the vegan world or not, we at the Vegan Society are here to help you and support you with facts and data to support our position.
We look forward to meeting you soon, and we wish you the best of luck – you have one of the hardest jobs in the UK, but also one of the most rewarding.
The Vegan Society
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.