Uh oh, a ubiquitous post about the Royal Family coming up. Fortunately it’s not about the wedding…
For a long time, Prince Charles has been the posh champion of environmentalism. Now, I’m no supporter of Prince Charles, or indeed the monarchy, but his activism on behalf of traditional farming methods and organic produce has always been pleasing. Whilst he’s not exactly been my inspiration for looking into environmental issues, nor any of the people I know, it’s still definitely a good thing to have a royal supporting the cause.
A few days ago, Prince Charles went one step further. At Georgetown University in the USA, he gave a speech at the Future of Food conference, which featured a variety of prominent figures in the field of environmental food production including Eric Schlosser (the author of Fast Food Nation), and current generation farmers including author/farmer Wendell Berry. At this speech, Prince Charles reiterated issues he’s spoken about before – sustainability in food production primarily, whilst also mentioning the need to maintain affordability of food.
However, instead of sticking to the familiar adage “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” (or in this case, Georgetown, USA) he instead decided to attack American food production techniques, highlighting how irresponsibility and failure to create sustainable food sources has led to significant problems. He also mentioned how rapidly development is occurring in the US, stating that an area the size of Indiana has been built over since 1982.
Most interestingly though, Prince Charles seems to have recognised the value that a vegetarian/vegan diet can have on the environment. He covered various facts on the resources used in meat production, including “for every pound of beef produced in the industrial system, it takes two thousand gallons of water.” Whilst he is not promoting the cessation of meat production (hence he only mentioned industrial systems) he did call for people to lower their intake of meat, particularly beef, and to only buy meat from organic and sustainable sources.
Some people in the US are somewhat outraged at his stabs at the American farming system, but it is undeniable that he is right. Why is this important to the vegan cause though? Prince Charles is far from a vegan. I mean, he spends most weekends out in fields shooting stuff. But I feel this is a significant step because it’s the closest thing we will ever get to an upper class, traditional, and posh person promoting the vegetarian cause. There are powerful people promoting veganism, but none of them are from the British aristocracy.
Prince Charles is a member of the Royal Family. This is probably the last group of people I’d ever expect to give awareness to vegan issues, and here he is promoting the reduction of meat in the diet. If you have a spokesperson like that for an issue, then it can go a long way. Already this has been covered in The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper traditionally read by the middle to upper classes on the right wing. Think about all the stereotypical and smug Tory voters reading over that article and thinking, even just for a second, about lowering the meat in their diet.
For that, one puts one’s thumb up at you Prince Charles.