Wildlife conservationist and nature show host Chris Packham is going vegan for the planet and the animals.
The famed English conservationist – who has long shared his love of protecting wildlife with the public – revealed that he plans to take part in Veganuary this year in a video posted to his Facebook page.
The presenter will document the highs and lows of his journey throughout the month “candidly and honestly.” And although he’s particularly concerned about finding a good vegan cheese brand, he admitted he’s determined to succeed after failing to complete the challenge in previous years.
Packham initially revealed his decision to ditch dairy from his already meat-free diet in an article titled “Here’s Why I’m Going Vegan,” published last October in The Big Issue. Packham wrote at the time, “I’m not vegan. Yet. But I’m moving towards it. And here’s why.”
Packham first explained how he stopped eating meat over 20 years ago at the prompting of colleague and former co-host of the BBC children’s nature programme, “The Really Wild Show,” Michaela Strachan. “I only ate meat twice more, so I have not eaten meat, with no regrets whatsoever, since the 1980s,” he said.
“I don’t see any difference between the way I should treat my dog– who I love and whose well-being I’m preoccupied with – and a pig, who is just as intelligent and important as Scratchy, but is kept in a concrete pen where it can’t turn around,” Packham continued. He added that he would soon become a patron of Compassion in World Farming, an animal welfare charity that campaigns for an end to factory farming on ethical grounds.
The 57-year-old naturalist – who has previously called for “realistic” images of factory farming on animal-based food labels – also acknowledged his environmental concerns, addressing the resource-intense and polluting nature of industrial animal agriculture. According to the largest-ever food production analysis, a plant-based diet is the most effective way to combat climate change.
While Packham called for a move towards growing sustainable, plant-based food rather in place of factory farmed meat, dairy, and eggs, he also expressed empathy towards the farmers whose incomes would be impacted by such a drastic change.
“They could be going into organic vegetable production, and we should support them with training schemes and grants to switch the land, equipment and machinery over,” he said. His reasoning is not off; a growing number of studies have revealed that it is possible to feed the growing global population with plant-based food. “…We have to work in partnership to produce a healthy world. We can’t turn our back on people who have been producing meat and dairy for hundreds of years. We need to bring them with us.”
Packham also had high praise for the growing consciousness of Gen Zers, who are embracing veganism faster than any other age group.
“They have greater awareness and the heartening thing is that rather than ignore that education they have embraced it,” he said. Likewise, he called upon those who have not yet dabbled with plant-based food to try eating at least one or two meat-free meals per week, then continue to make a conscious effort to cut out dairy and other animal products. Packham added that longtime vegans should be supportive of those taking incremental steps.
“It is the direction of travel that is important,” Packham explained.
Image Credit: Chris Packham
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