Moaning dairy industry figures have been told their complaints about a vegan advert have not been upheld.
The Advertising Standards Authority [ASA] has cleared an advertisement by Go Vegan World that states: “Humane milk is a myth. Don’t buy it.”
Go Vegan World, which was founded by Sandra Higgins, is a campaign group which aims to ‘liberate animals from human suppression’.
Its advert – which was featured in The Sunday Telegraph – pictures a cow standing behind barbed wire. Words on the ad say: “I went vegan the day I visited a dairy. The mothers, still bloody from birth, searched and called frantically for their babies.
Their daughters, fresh from their mothers’ wombs but separated from them, trembled and cried piteously, drinking milk from rubber teats on the wall instead of their mothers’ nurturing bodies. All because humans take their milk.”
The ASA received challenges from seven complainants about the ad – some of whom work or have worked in the dairy industry. The complainants challenged the claims in the ad, saying they were misleading and could not be substantiated, suggesting that the advertisement does not accurately reflect the way dairy cows are treated.
The complaints focused around the idea that the ad suggests calves are taken from their mothers prior to the 12-24 hours recommended by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [Defra].
Go Vegan World said nothing in the ad stated this – and additionally, the organization believed that most people would see separation at 24 or 25 hours as equally unjust.
It added that later separation causes more distress, and that the timing of separation is irrelevant to the advert.
The ASA cleared the ad of any wrongdoing, saying: “We understood that Defra recommended that calves should be kept with their mothers for at least 12 and preferably 24 hours after birth.
“Although the language used to express the claims was emotional and hard-hitting, we understood it was the case that calves were generally separated from their mothers very soon after birth, and we therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to materially mislead readers.”
It added that it understood complainants felt the advert suggested dairy farms did not comply with welfare standards – and that this is what makes dairy production ‘inhumane’.
Higgins welcomed her win, saying: “Dairy is inherently inhumane.”
A statement from the group said: “It must be noted that some involved in the dairy industry have attempted to have the ad withdrawn, thereby preventing people from learning the truth. If they think the industry they are involved in is fair or humane, why do they try to silence us?”
Michael Oakes, National Farmer’s Union National Dairy Board Chairman said he felt let down by the ASA – adding that he was ‘angry and disappointed’.