Jemima Jewell, Head of Food Business, spoke at the 2015 London Vet Show recently, addressing the question: ‘what’s the role of the vet in a world that eats less meat?’ The session was hosted by the British Veterinary Association, and prompted some robust debate about the opportunities – and responsibilities – for vets in the future.
At the heart of the issue, Jemima said, will be the opportunity to provide a higher level of welfare – to a lower number of animals - in less intensive systems. These systems should afford the animals more space and higher levels of enrichment, and to be able to operate without the routine prophylactic use of antibiotics or the need for routine mutilations.
For maximum impact on welfare, vets can move from a model based primarily on curative treatment to an ever-greater emphasis on positive management. This means addressing – and measuring - a holistic approach to welfare - paying attention to mental wellbeing, and to the ability for animals to express their natural behaviour, as well as monitoring their physical wellbeing.