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Genesis Butler, a 14-year-old climate activist, attended a United Nations pre-summit on food systems last month to learn more about the environmental efforts of the global dairy industry. However, Butler was removed from the Zoom session after raising questions about the environmental impact of dairy compared to plant-based milk.
“Worried about my future on this planet”
The session was hosted by the Global Dairy Platform and was part of the affiliate program. It was titled “Raising the Climate Ambition of the Global Agricultural Sector: A Dairy Based Approach”.
During the session, Butler asked why there was no expert on plant-based milks on the panel. She discussed the importance of encouraging countries to promote vegan dairy products, given that they are more sustainable than cow’s milk.
“I also let them know that I was 14 and worried about my future on this planet and that’s why I was asking them to address my concerns,” Butler wrote on Instagram. She revealed that other guests asking similar questions were also kicked out of the session.
The vegan activist – who gave a TEDx talk when she was just 10 years old – said the situation was “disheartening.”
She continued, “Our leaders are always focused on an animal-based food system and they are trying to whitewash it. This is why we are witnessing an acceleration of the climate crisis.
“Our ‘leaders’ are stuck in their old ways of nurturing and providing energy to the world. This must change! A plant-based food system is needed NOW, not in the future, because we need to make drastic changes now. “
“Our planet is at stake”
Lara Pappers is Head of International Communications at ProVeg, an international food awareness organization. Pappers also attended the session as a guest.
She said the dairy industry’s reluctance to take “critical issues” seriously was “very disappointing”.
She continued, “The United Nations Pre-Summit on Food Systems is a crucial once-in-a-lifetime climate event and creates a climate action plan in our food systems… When an industry presents questionable sustainability strategies without offering credible scientific sources, they must be questioned, since, as Genesis pointed out, the future of our planet is at stake.
“This appears to be another attempt at greenwashing a declining industry, which, when challenged, sees no way out but to end the conversation,” Pappers said.
“We hope our world leaders see through these tactics and add plant-based food to the international climate agenda as a key climate change mitigation strategy.”
Plant news contacted Global Dairy Platform and the United Nations Food Systems Summit for comment.