This is why Jeremy Corbyn and other politicians have to go vegan

PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk explains why the Labour leader needs to make the lifestyle change.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, holds a notebook as he addresses an anti-austerity rally organised by campaigners Peoples' Assembly, in Parliament Square, in central London, Britain July 1, 2017REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a long-standing vegetarian, made the admission that he is "going through the process" of changing his diet to a vegan one earlier this week, which means he would be cutting out animal products entirely including eggs, cheese and milk.

Corbyn has been a veggie since he was 20 following a stint working on a pig farm in Jamaica. The 68-year-old is also a committed defender of animal rights and joined the League Against Cruel Sports at school. He even grows a fair proportion of his food on his allotment, which is more than most gratified vegans can say.

But unfortunately he hasn't quite yet committed to going the whole hog.

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Without sounding didactic, as many vegans are accused of being, becoming a vegetarian isn't quite enough in regards to supporting environment and animal welfare issues. It also won't fully protect you from life-threatening ailments such as lifestyle-related heart disease and cancer, but that's for another article.

Factory farm operators typically impregnate cows using artificial insemination – many consider it as a form of rape. Calves are generally torn away from their mothers within a day of birth which leaves them both traumatised. Male calves will end up in cramped veal crates and on plates at Michelin-starred restaurants around 18-20 weeks later, or barren feedlots where they will be fattened up for beef.

Females will be sentenced to the same fate as their mothers. And the cycle continues.

Ingrid Newkirk, founder of the world's biggest animal rights organisation PETA, discussed the impact politicians could make if they went vegan and why they need to wake up and smell the soya cappuccino.

PETA founder Ingrid NewkirkPETA

She told IBTimes UK: "Well, they can either decide that global climate change is a fiction – or if they dare say one word to acknowledge it – then they need to be vegan don't they? And it's not only in what they eat, it's in what they wear.

"We were just talking about leather – there was recently the Kering Report released by the fashion industry that went through what is the most environmentally degrading forms of material. They looked at plastics, PVC – at everything – and leather was the highest environmental pollutant."

Newkirk added: "That's not just from methane that the cows produce. It's also because they took into account the transport of the animals, the feed for the animals, deforestation to grow the food for them, the pesticides they use, all that water. They said 93% of the environmental impact is before they are skinned – just to get an animal to that leather stage."

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The Kering Report uncovered that three of the four worst materials for the environment, per kilogram, are derived from animals. Cow leather takes number one prize for being most damaging, with silk being a close second. Cotton comes in third, followed up by wool.

Ingrid concluded: "So yes – politicians should put up or shut up."

When I suggest why politicians don't "push it out there" about the environmental damages of agriculture, I ask if it may be down to the meat industry "pumping the government" with funding.

Without hesitation she nodded, and said, "and the dairy industry, yes".

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"It is going to change without them," she continued, before adding: "Politics is sometimes the last thing to change; it's the consumer – the man at the bus stop, the kid telling his mother what he wants for dinner. That's what changes the world.

"And companies are changing, they have compassionate consumers now. People are asking questions. Even, for example, TripAdvisor, we've managed to get TripAdvisor to stop things completely such as elephant rides. Thomas Cook is next on our target list – Thomas Cook in the UK is still promoting SeaWorld.

Calves are taken away from their mothers after being bornPaladin27/Flickr Creative Commons

"You've also got things like Tinder – we got in touch with them because a lot of men post pictures posing with a baby tiger. Tinder has now agreed with us to not accept any of those pictures anymore."

After meeting the softly spoken yet defiant and passionate Newkirk, the Tinder thing didn't come as a surprise.

Our chat also made me realise that everything is interlinked – I never thought I would write PETA and Tinder in the same sentence. The meat industry is linked to the dairy industry. If you put cow's milk in your tea, Newkirk cites, then you are quite directly supporting the veal industry.

While the public are slowly waking up to the ominous side of farming and making the connection, Newkirk believes that politicians such as Corbyn have a moral duty to be vegan and set an example as leaders. Educate yourself on the dairy industry, according to PETA here.

PETA prank tricks people into drinking 'dog's milk'Peta

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