Former President Mary Robinson wants us to tackle climate change by going vegan

Speaking at a conference in Ottawa, Ireland's first female president recommend reducing meat consumption

Former President Mary Robinson wants us to tackle climate change by going vegan

Julie Gichuru, Founder & CEO of Arimus Media, left, and Mary Robinson, United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy on El Nino & Climate at The Social Good Summit earlier this month [Stuart Ramson/AP Images for UN Foundation]

Mary Robinson, the first woman to be elected President of Ireland and who served as the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, has called of people living in the world’s developed nations to consider eating less meat or even going vegan in an effort to alter the course of climate change.

The 72-year-old former president, respected worldwide for her advocacy for marginalised communities, made her comments when speaking at the One Young World Summit in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, making a case for “climate justice.”

“We don’t need to consume as much as we have in the world,” the constitutional lawyer said, “We have a world where there’s inequity and inequality.

“We can be simpler in the parts of the world that have benefitted from fossil fuel.”

Robinson’s comments echo those made by the UN, which has recently called for consumers in the developed world to cut back on the amount of meat they consume on their dinner plates. Livestock remains one of the largest contributors of methane, a greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere, and also uses considerably more water than vegetable cultivation.

“We need, each of us, to think about our carbon footprint. Eat less meat, or no meat at all. Become vegetarian or vegan.”

While a University of Chicago study published in 2006 claims that switching to a vegan diet is more beneficial to the environment than switching to a hybrid car, Robinson’s comments will not have found favour with the Irish Farmers’ Association. Last February, the association’s environment chairman, Harold Kingston, described reducing meat consumption as a “farcical solution” to reducing the impact of climate change.

“Simplistic proposals that European citizens should become vegetarians may get headlines, but they do little to develop a coherent response to the climate challenge. Such proposals do a disservice to the thousands of farm families across Europe, particularly in Ireland, who are global leaders in sustainable food production.”

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