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Credit: Lee Atherton

How we reach an Animal- & Nature-Friendly Future

On Friday 16th September our wonderful Patron, Deborah Meaden joined me on stage with presenter and journalist, Matt Stadlen to discuss how kindness and compassion were prerequisites of a nature-friendly future.

The event, in the historic Sheldonian Theatre, as part of the Oxford Literary Autumn Festival, marked the release of Sixty Harvests Left: How to Reach a Nature-friendly Future, published by Bloomsbury in August. 

It was an absolute treat’

 An inspiring and important evening’  

Thank you. How we eat, how we invest, all makes a difference, we need to act now’

‘I’m going home to check my pension and how it is invested’

Just examples of the kind messages we received by way of feedback. 

Credit: Lee Atherton


Welcoming Deborah Meaden to the stage was such a pleasure, all under the expert guidance of expert presenter, Matt Stadlen.  

Deborah has been hugely supportive of Compassion in World Farming for many years, is passionate about animals and nature, and a real eco-champion. All of which folds with her business acumen and experience into one of the strongest voices for animals. 

A Book of Urgency and Hope

I was the first on stage to set the scene and explain how ‘Sixty Harvests Left’ is framed around the four seasons.  Starting with Summer as a metaphor for the way we live currently – as if we are on a planet without boundaries.  An endless party.

However, we are starting to see autumnal leaves turning, with climate change and the quickening pace of wildlife extinctions. If we carry on as we are, with factory farming and overconsumption of intensive meat, then a child born today will, by the time they reach 18 years, find that we have triggered catastrophic climate change, that there are a billion more mouths to feed and a third less soil for growing food, and that wildlife will have become the merest shadow of what it once was. All of which would present humanity with an existential threat, or at best, a perpetual Winter.

However, it doesn’t have to be like this!

With just years left to turn things around, much needed solutions are already at hand; new ways forward that are beautiful, life-affirming and humane.

Three ‘Rs’

They can be summarised as a veritable ‘three Rs’ approach – involving a wholesale move toward Regenerative farming combined with Rethinking protein and Rewilding of the soil. 

Through a combination of nature-friendly regenerative farming and far fewer farmed animals, the world’s food system can become truly sustainable. 

I closed with a poignant film.

Humans are Amazing

Deborah then gave her own very personal thoughts.

Credit: Lee Atherton

She started by explaining why humanity needs a complete change of mindset but why she is also hopeful.  And why does Deborah have hope?  Well, she explained when she and her husband, Paul had purchased a small farm, it had no worms, no birds and no insects.  She didn’t blame the farmer because back in the 1970’s they were encouraged to plough, fertilise and use strong weed and insect killers.  So Paul and Deborah waited and thought about what they should do but while they waited something extraordinary happened – Nature!  In 2 years by leaving the land and nature alone they had birds, insects and worms.  This has helped her to have hope.

Deborah kindly went onto talk about how ‘Sixty Harvests Left’ recognises all these issues but makes it personal and gives hope.

She concluded with a single key thought ‘Humans are amazing, which is why it is so blinking irritating when we decide to be amazing in all the wrong ways.  Because when we decide to be amazingly amazing, we can sort this!’

Discussion and Debate

Once speeches had been delivered, we enjoyed a thoroughly strong debate, led expertly by Matt which then spilled out to include the Oxford audience.

Credit: Lee Atherton

It was an evening to remember.

If you were unable to be with us, I urge you to watch the lively proceedings here Sixty Harvest Left event at the Oxford Literary Festival – YouTube

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who came along on the night, to our wonderful Patron, Deborah Meaden, to Matt Stadlen and to the Oxford Literary Festival for so kindly supporting the launch of ‘Sixty Harvests Left’.

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