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Vegan bus advert does not offend, it just aims to educate

Readers' letters | Published:

Reference the article ‘Shropshire Councillor demands that Veganuary bus adverts should be removed’.

A pro-vegan advert on the number 11 bus in Shrewsbury

Those with civic responsibilities no doubt feel it incumbent on them to ensure that the public is protected from dangerous or overly offensive information or adverts. It would be hard, though, for councillor Steve Charmley, deputy leader of Shropshire Council to argue that his stated intention to remove from buses a simple message asking people to ‘Try Vegan this January’ fits into that bracket.

On the contrary, the available evidence for the health benefits of some vegetarian or vegan diets indicates a likely health benefit including reduced risk of obesity. A diet containing less red and/or processed meat has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease and reduces the risk of early death from these conditions.

In addition to the direct personal effects of reduced dietary meat consumption, there is also evidence that the vast increase in dietary meat in the developed world over recent decades has contributed to increased methane, water pollution and global warming.

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Widespread use of antibiotics in animals, sometimes as a replacement for sanitary conditions, has contributed to antibiotic resistance in humans.

This bus advert simply asks people to consider an alternative diet for a short time and see how it suits them; the councillor’s apparent anxiety that the adverts will bring Shropshire’s agriculture industry to its knees seems a little far-fetched. On the other hand, a few people might find these adverts just the stimulus they need to help to change their lifestyle.

People who disagree with this advert could perhaps sponsor a different one but there is no reason to deny vegans the right to an opinion. Censorship is dangerous.

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As Voltaire said: “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.”

Perhaps Councillor Charmley might like to explain why he is keen that a message that might possibly improve their health is hidden from the Shropshire public?

Dr Antony Lempert MBBS MRCGP, Chair, Shropshire division of the British Medical Association

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