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Dr Amir Khan presents the health impacts of factory farming at annual Peter Roberts Memorial Lecture

News Section Icon Published 18/03/2024

Dr Amir Khan with Philip Lymbery at The Oxford Literary Festival
Dr Amir Khan and Philip Lymbery, our Global CEO

On Saturday (16th March), popular TV personality and NHS GP Dr Amir Khan, joined our Global CEO and author, Philip Lymbery in discussion at the Oxford Literary Festival.

Peter Roberts Memorial Lecture

Amir, who is passionate about the links between our health and nature, was this year’s guest speaker for our annual Peter Roberts Memorial Lecture, named in honour of our founder. The lecture – 'Transforming Food Production’ – took place in the prestigious Sheldonian Theatre.

Philip and Amir covered several topics including biodiversity loss, the climate crisis, and the damaging consequences of factory farming on human health and the environment.

Amir, one of our dedicated supporters, said during the discussion: “As a doctor I’m really interested in food and health, the two are so intrinsically connected.” He went on to explain how factory farming isn’t just harming animals, it’s harming us and when profit is the motivator, health is often sacrificed.

“Mass production of meat and factory farming is affecting us, it leads to diseases, obesity, malnutrition and is fuelling the rise of antibiotic resistance,” Amir continued. “We know that the more plants we include in our diets, the healthier we can be and there are so many benefits to eating more plants. From a health point of view, moving away from factory farming is the best thing for all of us.”

Religion and animal welfare

Our Ambassador Emeritus, Joyce D’Silva talked about her latest book, Animal Welfare in World Religion: Teaching and Practice, with panellists from different faiths including Amir, who is a Muslim, and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord George Carey at ‘Religion and Animal Welfare’. Chaired by BBC broadcaster Francine Stock, the event examined what the scriptures say about animal welfare and call on religious leaders to put these teachings into practice.

Inspirational sessions with influential speakers

We also held several other events across the day to discuss our broken global food system.

Image of Philip Lymbery, Francine Stock, James Bailey and Henry Dimbleby at Oxford Literary Festival
From left: Philip Lymbery, Francine Stock, James Bailey and Henry Dimbleby

‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Farming’ brought together journalist and scriptwriter Graham Harvey and farmer and author Rosamund Young where they talked about the current issues with farming and offered solutions. ‘The Politics of Food’ saw founder of the Leon restaurant chain and author of ‘Ravenous’, Henry Dimbleby, and executive director of Waitrose, James Bailey debated the role politics can play in securing a more sustainable food system. Finally, in the ‘Will Cultivated Meat Save the World?’ session chief executive of cultivated pet food manufacturer, Meatly, Owen Ensor; ‘the pioneer of cultivated meat’, Ira van Eelen; and private investor Jim Mellon discussed the future of cultivated meat.

Where it all began

Find out more about our founders in Roaming Wild: The Founding of Compassion in World Farming by Emma Silverthorn which tells the powerful but little-known story of Anna and Peter Roberts. Two compassionate souls united in love for farmed animals.


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