MEDIA RELEASE: Interfaith Vegan & Plant-Based Transition Coalitions Urge UN to Practice What it Preaches

MEDIA RELEASE: Interfaith Vegan & Plant-Based Transition Coalitions Urge UN to Practice What it Preaches

NEW YORK (September 23, 2021)In Defense of Animals’ Interfaith Vegan Coalition and the Plant-Based Transition Coalition issued a strong message to the United Nations before a Food Systems Summit today in New York City. The letter to Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres and UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) President Mr. Alok Sharma addressed serious concerns regarding the pre-summit dialogues in July and urged key changes before the summit today and COP26 beginning on November 1. 

“Everything is at stake with the UN climate recommendations at COP26 this fall. These recommendations could help to slow or even reverse the degradation of the planet and our environment, or they could promote the continuation and acceleration of the downward spiral we are now facing,” said Eleanor Carrara, of the Plant-Based Transition Coalition and member of its organizing committee. “Please do not let the world down by allowing the animal agriculture industry to dominate the agenda and influence the recommendations away from what the planet needs. We are running out of time.”

In the letter, signatories assert that pre-summit sessions were not fully science-based with demonstrated conflicts of interest and objected to plant-based supporters being removed from discussions. Over 50 organizations represented in the letter called for all future sessions to be impartial and to include recognized independent scientists rather than industry and government representatives. 

The UN is aware of animal agriculture’s significant role in causing the climate crisis. In 2006, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization found that animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the exhaust from all transport combined. In 2019, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) described plant-based diets as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change ― and included a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption.

Owing to the climate impacts of animal agriculture, signatories have requested that all meals served at COP26 Summit events, as well as ancillary events, be plant-based by default. 

“The signatories of this letter are all members of the Interfaith Vegan Coalition and our partner organization Animal Interfaith Alliance,” said Lisa Levinson, of In Defense of Animals and co-founder of the Interfaith Vegan Coalition. “We represent thousands of people of diverse faiths and express concerns from the faith-based vegan community. Animal agriculture is polluting our planet and a major threat to the safety of humanity. We urge Secretary-General Guterres to act now to clean dirty animal agriculture out of our food systems.”

​​The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report indicated the dangerous state of our planet as a “Code Red for Humanity.” Animal agriculture has garnered relatively little attention despite being one of the most damaging drivers of the planet’s destruction due to its greenhouse gas emissions, land degradation, deforestation, biodiversity loss, water consumption and pollution.

Despite the abundance of UN and other scientific studies indicating the devastating effects of producing and consuming animal products, the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit in July prioritized animal agriculture misinformation. The bias and deliberate silencing of science is undeniable as 14-year-old, youth climate and animal activist Genesis Butler, was removed from a pre-summit digital chat session about dairy after she provided evidence contradicting one of the pro-animal agriculture speakers. 

The future of our planet depends on shifting away from animal agriculture to plant-based agriculture and solutions. Many of the pre-summit sessions were dedicated to pro-animal agriculture speakers and government employees, with little representation for our planet and the benefits of shifting towards plant-based diets. 

Fish and animal farming representatives presented biased information and data in a clear conflict of interest to the stated mission of the summit to create healthier and more sustainable food systems. The pre-summit bypassed the science-based health benefits of a plant-based diet, while touting subjective and unscientific benefits of eating meat and dairy. 

The future of the world depends on our leaders’ full consideration of scientific evidence. “Business as usual” cannot continue. 

The United Nations must prioritize science and plant-based agriculture especially following the release of the IPCC 6th Assessment Report on Aug 9, 2021. Today’s UN Food Systems Summit  and COP26 in November must unite and motivate world leaders to make urgent, unbiased and science-based decisions regarding the planet’s future. 

Right now, meat lobbyists are pushing the UN to support more meat production. If the UN is not held accountable, meat industry lobbyists will destroy the planet and the credibility of the UN itself.

The Plant-Based Transition Coalition, In Defense of Animals’ Interfaith Vegan Coalition, Animal Interfaith Alliance, and animal activists around the world have united to urge UN and COP26 officials to take the following steps to avert a climate crisis:

  • Add the phasing out of animal agriculture as a key COP26 goal.
  • Urge world governments to work with farmers to transition to plant-based agriculture or other climate-friendly employment, and transition subsidies to plant-based agriculture.
  • Hold governments accountable that continue to contribute to the planet’s demise.
  • Require food served at all events at the UN Food Systems Summit and the COP26 this fall, as well as all UN-related events in the future, to be plant-based.

In Defense of Animals started the Interfaith Vegan Coalition to help animal activists and spiritual leaders bring vegan values to spiritual, ethical, and religious communities. The coalition provides faith-based tools to help all faith and secular wisdom traditions practice the ideals of nonviolence, lovingkindness, and harmlessness toward all animals. The coalition is composed of 34 member organizations, 2 allied organizations, and one partner organization Animal Interfaith Alliance comprising 17 organizations, all working in harmony for a common cause.

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Interfaith Vegan Coalition Member Organizations:

A Prayer for Compassion Film
American Vegan Society
Animals' Prayer Flag Project
Catholic Action for Animals
Catholic Concern for Animals
Christian Animal Rights Association
Christian Vegetarian Association
Circle of Compassion
Climate Healers
Compassion Consortium
Compassionate Living
Compassionate Spirit
Concern for Helping Animals in Israel
Dharma Voices for Animals
Faith Action for Animals
Fraternitè pour le Respect Animal
God’s Creatures Ministry
In Defense of Animals
Interfaith Vegan Alliance
Jewish Veg
Karuna Music and Art
Main Street Vegan Academy
One Love Animal Connection Ministry
PETA Lambs
Quaker Animal Kinship
Seeds to Inspire Foundation
Shamayim: Jewish Animal Advocacy
St. Francis Alliance
The Spiritual Forum
Together in Creation
United Poultry Concerns
Vegan Spirituality
Vegan World 2026
World Vegan Assembly

Animal Interfaith Alliance Member Organizations:

Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals
Bhagvatinandji Education and Health Trust
Catholic Concern for Animals
Christian Vegetarians and Vegans UK
Christian Vegetarian Association US
Dharma Voices for Animals UK
Institute of Jainology
International Ahimsa Organisation
Animals in Islam
Jewish Vegetarian Society UK
Mahavir Trust
Oshwal Association of the UK
Pan-Orthodox Concern for Animals
Quaker Concern for Animals
Romeera Foundation
Sadhu Vaswani Centre
Young Jains


In Defense of Animals, Interfaith Vegan Coalition co-founder, Lisa Levinson,, 215-620-2130
Plant-Based Transition Coalition, 

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 38-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the evironment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.

The Interfaith Vegan Coalition (IVC) helps animal activists and spiritual leaders bring vegan values to spiritual, ethical, and religious communities. The IVC provides tools to help all faith and secular wisdom traditions practice the ideals of nonviolence, lovingkindness, and harmlessness toward all animals.

The Plant-Based Transition Coalition is a collaborative Canadian effort that uses a combined theory of change to bring about a transition to a just and sustainable plant-based food system. The transition will focus on increasing plant-based foods in public institutions, reorienting animal husbandry subsidies towards sustainable plant-based agriculture, assisting the transition of animal breeders to plant-based alternatives, repealing and preventing ag-gag legislation, and adopting a bill of rights for non-human animals.


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