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Vegans Win Debate at Prestigious Oxford Union

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Vegans Win Debate at Prestigious Oxford Union

The motion “This House Would Go Vegan” was passed after a public debate at the prestigious Oxford Union in England where inspired vegan speakers defeated a weak opposition.

Oxford Union debate chamber
Oxford Union debate chamber

London, England, February 1st, 2024 — Four prominent vegans were victorious as the motion “This House Would Go Vegan” was debated at the prestigious Oxford Union in England, run by students of Oxford University who have been hosting important debates for two hundred years. This formal debate took place on November 30th, 2023, at the Union’s impressive debates chamber, and was won by the vegan team with 112 votes for the motion and 84 against it.

The vegan side of the debate was represented by Disha Hegde, a vegan student and then President of the Oxford Union, Dr. Sailesh Rao, founder of Climate Healers, Joey Carbstrong, famous vegan activist and YouTuber, and Dr. Chidi Ngwaba, lifestyle physician.

Vegan History Made at Historic Venue

Since 1823, the Oxford Union has hosted leaders in every field, from politics and business to sports and the arts, who have either given talks or participated in debates. Albert Einstein, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Jawaharlal Nehru, Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II, Stephen Hawking and Elton John are among the many famous individuals who have spoken here. The formal debates are held every Thursday evening during the school term and guest speakers join students to argue in favor of or against a pre-determined motion. The winning team is determined by the number of attendees who depart the chamber by walking through the doors marked Ayes or Noes, in a similar manner to how votes are cast in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament.

Joey Carbstrong Debating at Oxford Union
Vegan Joey Carbstrong Debating.

Various historical debates have taken place in this setting. In 1964, Malcolm X defended the motion “This House Believes Extremism in Defense of Liberty is no Vice; Moderation in the Pursuit of Justice is no Virtue.” In 1975, the Oxford Union debated the motion “This House Would Say Yes to Europe” with 493 voting for the motion and 92 against it. Former Prime Minister Edward Heath and the leader of the Liberal Party Jeremy Thorpe spoke in favor of the motion, and the UK joined the EU afterwards.

 

Watch Dr. Rao Break Down The Vegan Debate

UnchainedTV’s Jane Velez-Mitchell interviewed the victorious Dr. Sailesh Rao about the historic debate on veganism at the Oxford Union:

The Opposition Used a Weak & Failed Strategy

Dr. Sailesh Rao debating at Oxford Union.
Dr. Sailesh Rao debating at Oxford Union.

Dr. Sailesh Rao has more than three decades of professional experience and is the Founder and Executive Director of Climate Healers, a non-profit dedicated to healing the Earth’s climate. A systems specialist with a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, Dr. Rao worked on the internet communications infrastructure for twenty years after graduation. During this period, he led the transformation of early analog internet connections to more robust digital connections, while accelerating their speeds ten-fold. In 2006, he switched careers and became deeply immersed, full time, in solving the environmental crises affecting humanity. He explains why he broke the event’s custom of dressing in black tie:

“I wanted to wear my traditional Indian dress to show that this is actually a worldwide movement, and we are now, all of us, coming together from around the world to say, ‘Let’s fix this together.’ If you look at the team that spoke for the proposition — the vegan side — I was from India, Disha Hegde is originally from India but she grew up in the UK and was born in the UK,  Joey Carbstrong is from Australia, and Dr. Chidi Ngwaba is from Nigeria originally. So, we were all from all over the world, but the other side was mostly just from the UK.”

Oxford Union Debate Stage.
Disha Hegde argues in favor of veganism during Oxford Union Debate.

It is not surprising that the vegan side won as the side opposing the motion did a very poor job arguing against veganism, with unimpressive, self-centered arguments about the inconvenience of changing their ways alternating with vicious attacks on vegans in general. Dr. Rao analyzed their failed strategy:

See Also
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“They basally were appealing to fear. ‘Do you really want to change?’ That sort of emotion. On one side we were dealing with facts and science and the anti-vegan side was dealing with emotions and culture. And, of course, the students saw through it, so they voted for us.”

 

“We spent a couple of hours before the debate just having dinner, getting photographs, and then going through the facility. Looking at the pictures of Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, and all the people who were there before us.” — Dr. Sailesh Rao, Climate Healers  

Participants at the Oxford Union debate on veganism
Participants at the Oxford Union debate on veganism

Taking This Debate Format On The Road

This event was run by students and was sponsored by the vegan organization GenV.   Dr. Rao explains why he feels it was historic in nature and why he hopes to take this format on the road, having similar debates at universities around the world:

“For me, the debate was a turning point. It was like a mainstream affirmation of what we have been saying. These are the students from Oxford, and they actually came to me after the debate and they told me that the speeches from the pro-vegan side gave them a lot of hope that there is a future on this planet for them — because a lot of young people are feeling depressed thinking they don’t really belong, that we are all going to die off.”

Dr. Chidi Ngwaba debates for vegansim.
Dr. Chidi Ngwaba debates for vegansim.

Dr Rao hopes to inspire students around the world to advocate for a global transition to a plant-based culture in order to ensure that future generations have a livable planet:

“We, as adults, have a responsibility to start telling positive stories to our children, that they shouldn’t feel this depression…The younger generation goes through university or schools saying ‘It’s all climate, climate, climate,’ and, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to die, and they don’t do anything about it.’ They’re all sitting around saying. ‘What can we do? What is anyone doing about this?’ So, here we come along and say, ‘Actually, you can solve this problem by just going vegan.’” Dr. Sailesh Rao, Climate Healers

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