Suzanne Bearne is a business reporter.

Laurence CandyImage source, Laurence Candy
Image caption, Laurence Candy is not only giving up farming animals, he is looking to get vegan accreditation

After losing most of his dairy herd to bovine Tuberculosis, Laurence Candy decided not to send animals to the slaughter.

It made me wonder if we can justify the slaughter of sentient beings.

Mr Candy has been working with a Scottish-based organisation called Farmers For Stock-Free Farming (FFSFF), which has been set up to support meat and dairy farmers who want to transition to animal-free agriculture.

He is selling 35 beef cattle and concentrating on growing cereals such as oats, wheat, and broad beans.

Mr Candy is moving to vegan production, which prohibits the use of animal products in order to improve the soil. He is working with an organization called the International Biocyclic vegan Network, which promotes and certifies plant-based, organic farms around the world.

The approach allows for two years to transition out of a livestock enterprise and establish suitable alternatives.

Mr Candy said he was trying to add value. There is a growing trend of vegan farming in his country.

A dairy farmer with some of his cowsImage source, Getty Images
Image caption, The UK is home to almost 12,000 dairy farms

According to research from Mintel, almost half of Britons are limiting their meat consumption. This increased from 40% in 2020.

The National Food Strategy, an independent review, said last year that the UK's current appetite for meat was unsustainable. It concluded that the intake needed to fall by 30% to help the environment.

There is a call to reduce meat consumption around the world.

In Canada, Mark Lanigan decided to give up his farm in Ontario in 2016 when a calf was born three months premature and he spent all day trying to keep it alive.

Mark LaniganImage source, Mark Lanigan
Image caption, Some of Mark Lanigan's neighbouring farmers now refuse to talk to him

He decided to set up an animal sanctuary instead of sending his animals to slaughter.

Mr Lanigan's Farmhouse Garden Animal Home has 28 cows, one horse, a donkey, and chickens and ducks, but he also sells vegetables such as radishes, cabbages, and beets.

He says that it has been a major transition. They thought I was crazy.

Mr Lanigan says that his neighbours don't talk to him. They think I am against farming.

I can speak on both sides of the fence. I can talk to people with an open mind.

FFSFF suggests farmers give up animals to explore other revenue streams instead of just growing crops. It suggests they set up a business that offers upscale campsites. It encourages them to plant more trees.

The price of produce can be so low that UK farmers have been in a terrible position for a long time.

Rebecca KnowlesImage source, Rebecca Knowles
Image caption, Rebecca Knowles says that the UK's farmers are struggling, and that going vegan may be the solution

We know we need to reduce livestock to meet climate change goals, and one sheep farmer contacted us worried about methane emissions from sheep.

Refarm is a UK organisation that helps dairy farmers switch to making and selling plant-based milk, cheese and yogurt substitute.

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The founder says the business was set up to stop animal exploitation.

Refarm says it has worked with several farms in the UK and Switzerland to provide them with equipment and recipes.

The transition is not always plain sailing. The Troxler's run a farm in Switzerland. They shifted from dairy farming to producing oatmeal water in 2020.

Claudia and Beat TroxlerImage source, Kurt Reichenbach
Image caption, Claudia and Beat Troxler have had to scale back on production of their oatmeal water

At the end of last year, Ms Troxler says they decided to scale back production as it was taking an enormous amount of time to deliver to organic shops across Switzerland. They now only sell from their farm shop.

It is not surprising that dairy and cattle farmers may be considering going animal-free, says Dr.Nicola Cannon, associate professor of agriculture at the Royal Agricultural University.

She says that the farming sector is struggling to meet the labour requirements at the moment, and that the crop sector is generally less intensive.

They are being driven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is difficult for the livestock sector as they are burping and farting methane.

Oatmeal waterImage source, Refarm'd
Image caption, Refarm'd advices farmers on recipes for making plant-based dairy substitutes

The chairman of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers says that they are not aware of farmers moving away from dairy and meat production for other organic and plant-based crops.

British dairy farmers are proud to produce dairy products with a high nutrition density, which means relatively small quantities of dairy help fulfill diet needs. The total amount of carbon emitted to meet the nutrition needs may be lower when consuming dairy.

Dairy farmers are taking proactive steps to reduce emissions by adopting regenerative farming principles and pasture systems, which are helping drive down emissions by sequestering carbon with diverse swards.

  • Veganism
  • Meat
  • Dairy farming
  • Animal welfare
  • Vegetarianism