Farming News - Countryfile presenter calls for agriculture to be taught at GCSEs to stop rise of 'vegan vigilantes'

Countryfile presenter calls for agriculture to be taught at GCSEs to stop rise of 'vegan vigilantes'

20 May 2019
Frontdesk / Livestock

Countryfile presenter Adam Henson (pictured) has expressed anger over the online intimidation increasingly dished out by militant vegans as he called for agriculture to be taught at GCSE level.

Countryfile host Adam Henson

Credit Heathcliff O'Malley

Mr Henson, who owns a 1,600-acre working farm in the Cotswolds, believes people need to "make informed choices" around food.

His wife and and daughter refuse to eat meat reared on his farm and now the 53-year-old says others need their insight over the decision making as he campaigns for people to learn more about the process of farming meat.

"What drives me mad are the vegan vigilantes who post horrendous things on social media that aren't true," he told the Sunday People. 

"Are you better off eating a lamb that's been bred on my farm, grazed on beautiful Cotswolds pasture and is full of wild flowers, or something that's been shipped half way around the world and may have contributed to deforestation? There has to be a balance.

"But let people eat what they want. I don't have a problem with it." Mr Henson's comments come after a rising number of reports of protests by vegans against the meat industry - both online and in the real world. 

In June last year, an Isle of Man goat farmer was targeted in a social media abuse campaign, while workers at a farm in Devon received online death threats.

The Greendale Farm Shop in Devon, which became the focus of ire for running a 'pick your turkey' Christmas promotion, was also daubed with graffiti reading "Murder!" and "Go Vegan!"

The National Pig Association last year claimed its members “cannot sleep” for fear of attacks on their farms, while the National Farmers’ Union advised against any “direct engagement with animal rights activists”. 

Members of militant vegan groups have also occupied supermarket meat aisles and invaded a steak restaurant in Brighton in November shouting "What do we want? Animal liberation! When do we want it? Now."

The protesters played audio of animals being slaughtered telling diners to 'listen to their screams'.  Mr Henson said that while he and his son eat meat bred on the farm, his wife and daughter are vegetarians. 

The BBC star also discussed the perks of appearing on Countryfile, revealing he once bought a bull from the Queen.

"Normal farmers will drive around in tractors peeping over other people's hedges, whereas I get to go behind the scenes and have a real look," he said. 

"Even to Balmoral where I actually bought a bull from the Queen. I met her afterwards and she asked me about it, which was lovely."

Mr Henson's farm, Farm Park was opened in 1971 by his father the farmer and TV presenter Joe Henson - who had a regular slot on Animal Magic.

He admitted that since finding his own fame, the farm - which is open to the public - has become inundated with fans and he has become less involved in its running. 

"I've had to take a step back, but I still like to get hands-on when I can," he said.  Mr Henson compared the experience of appearing at Countryfile live events to being a popstar - and said he owed a great deal to his co-presenter John Craven.  

"You get absolutely mobbed. Especially John Craven. He took me under his wing when I first started. I didn't have any journalistic background at all and people might have through 'Who's this little ginger farm boy coming onto the programme?'"