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The BBC's Nichola Carslaw
"The Vegetarian Society says it has been inundated with calls"
 real 28k

Committed vegetarian Chrissie Hynde
"Why would you want to kill something you don't have to?"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 28 March, 2001, 08:27 GMT 09:27 UK
Animal culls 'spark veggie surge'
Animals on a pyre
Children have been upset by the slaughter
Images of piles of dead lambs, slaughtered pigs and burning cattle in the countryside could be turning people vegetarian.

A report for BBC Radio 4's Today programme suggests the nation is changing its eating habits.

More than a quarter of vegetarians questioned in an ICM poll of 1,009 people said they had given up meat recently.

The Vegetarian Society says it has been "inundated" by calls from people across the country who have found the foot-and-mouth outbreak "the final straw".

People have to ask themselves what is it that upsets them about the killing of lambs

Juliet Gellatley,
Despite assurances from the government that foot-and-mouth is not a health risk to humans, thousands of people of all ages have asked the society for advice about a vegetarian diet.

A Vegetarian Society spokeswoman said calls from members of the public in March were up 100% compared to January's figures.

She said: "It is mainly people who have made the decision to become vegetarian on the back of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

"People have seen the images of animals being killed, thrown around, left dead on farms and put on to fires.

"Other people just have a longer feeling of distrust with meat."

Linda tucks into a meat free burger
Linda McCartney promoted vegetarianism
She said some calls were from parents whose children have been so upset by the images that they had asked to stop eating meat.

"We had a call from a woman in her 80s from Jersey who had become a veggie. Having seen and heard all about this she decided she could never eat meat again," the spokeswoman said.

The society's statement came as members of campaign group Viva were preparing to dress in lamb costumes outside Liverpool Street station with banners saying: "If killing 'healthy' lambs upsets you - don't eat them".

The group will be urging Londoners to go vegetarian and offering free information to help them make the change.

Viva spokeswoman Juliet Gellatley said: "People have to ask themselves what is it that upsets them about the killing of lambs.

Veggie facts
5000 people a week in the UK go veggie
The UK has 4 million vegetarians
In 10 years the number has doubled
10 million people in the UK don't eat red meat
12% of young people are veggie
"It certainly won't stop when foot-and-mouth does. If they are genuinely disturbed then they should stop eating them."

Nearly a third of those questioned for the Today programme would consider giving up meat in the future.

But when asked if the current crisis, along with BSE, made it more likely they would stop eating British meat, 70% of the respondents said no.

Ruth Rogers, a founding chef of the River Cafe in London, told Today she was selling more fish than meat in the restaurant.

She said: "People are more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies and the effect it is going to have on them and their children. It is a worry and it is justified."

Singer Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, a committed vegetarian, said it was good that people were finally seeing the reality of slaughter.

She told the Today programme: "It is a good job that people are seeing animals being slaughtered.

"All those animals were going to the slaughterhouse anyway, its about time that people start to see what's going on."

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