Multiple news outlets have dubbed 2019 as “The year of the vegan.” Headlines like “Everything is ready to make 2019 the ‘year of the vegan’. Are you?” and “The year of the vegan” have appeared in Forbes and The Economist. Numerous other news outlets are commenting on this idea as well.
On NPR there was a 30-minute show devoted to a panel discussing why and how to become a vegan titled, “Planting a seed: The vegan diet in 2019.”
The sad and humiliating part is that no one on this panel had an agricultural background. As a result, questions about the environment and how food is produced were answered by a dietitian, chef, and medical doctor.
I know this makes many of us upset, but we need to ask ourselves: Why aren’t people reaching out to us?
We are farmers who care for livestock and the land. We are agronomists who precisely measure the soil so that the correct amount of nutrients, pesticides, and herbicides are applied. We are veterinarians who carefully diagnose animals and prescribe drugs and prescriptions only when we deem it necessary. We are environmentalist working hard to lessen our carbon footprint and impact on climate change. We are scientists who are researching and inventing new technologies to help feed the hungry.
Most importantly, we are human, and so are vegans and everyone else. They might see us as the bad guys, which is similar to how we might see them.
I have started conversations with people who are vegan or vegetarian, and I get intimidated or nervous because I think they will try to call me out for being a dairy farmer and supporter of modern agricultural practices. But, I have found that when I am defensive and sometimes rude, they won’t listen to me. The only thing they take away from our meeting is a bad impression that they might associate with all farmers they meet.
I encourage everyone to take a look at these stories that claim 2019 will be the year of the vegan. Find out for yourself why people are switching to a mostly or all plant-based foods. A lot of people choose it for medical reasons, while others have concerns about animal welfare or the environment.
I challenge you to find a way to share your knowledge and expertise. Social media is an easy way, but why not take it one step further and put on a workshop for dietitians and doctors. You could reach out to the community to offer tours or even join a local government board or club where you can share your experiences.
I am going to make 2019 the year of everything agriculture. I hope you will, too!
Christy Achen was the 2018 Hoard's Dairyman summer editorial intern. She grew up on a dairy farm in southwest Kansas. Achen is currently a senior at Utah State University studying agricultural communications and journalism.