A vegan advert that attracted 403 complaints to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) could return to TV this summer.
Takeaway the Meat, which comes from animal advocacy organization Viva!, first hit screens in February 2022. It depicts a couple, who are snuggled on the sofa with their dog, ordering a pulled “pork” takeaway. When the doorbell rings, they are confronted by a delivery person bringing them a live piglet and a cleaver.
The ad was praised for its messaging and aim to encourage viewers to make the connection between animals and the food on their plates. It won two awards at the 2022 Drum Roses Awards for Marketing, and Viva! stated that it was “inundated” with messages from people saying the advert made them go vegan.
Viva! is now crowdfunding to bring the advert back to TV screens where, according to the charity, it will be seen by up to 18 million Brits. Viva! is aiming to raise £40,000, which an anonymous donor will double to £80,000. At the time of writing, the campaign has brought in nearly £20,000.
“Britain frequently describes itself as a nation of animal lovers, from the dogs and cats we live with, to the birds and other wildlife we watch for outdoors,” Viva!’s founder and director Juliet Gellatley said in a statement.
“But to be a truly compassionate country, we must stop eating animals. Takeaway the Meat highlights the hypocritical nature of loving one animal while eating another but provides an easy solution: try vegan!”
Vegan advert sparks controversy
Despite the fact that the advert provides an accurate depiction of where “pork” comes from, many Brits rushed to complain about its message. In fact, it became the second-most complained about advert of 2022.
It was accused of being “offensive,” “distressing,” as well as “vilifying meat eaters.” Some social media comments referred to the ad as vegan and “vegetarian terrorist propaganda.”
Some viewers praised the ad, however, with one writing: “Woahhhh did anybody else just see the vegan Viva advert?! Amazing work guys getting that out! Wow really powerful.”
Channel 4, on which the advert appeared, said at the time: “We believe it’s up to our viewers to make their own judgment about the adverts they see across Channel 4’s platforms.
“All adverts that appear on our channels are cleared against the relevant regulatory codes by Clearcast prior to transmission.”
The pig flesh industry
Pigs like those seen in the advert suffer tremendously for “pork” products. Mother pigs (also known as sows) are often housed in farrowing crates for up to six weeks after giving birth, which don’t allow her any room to turn around. Her piglets nurse from a small area next to her known as “the creep,” but the sow cannot access her children. Piglets will also have their tails docked and teeth clipped without pain relief. This is to stop them injuring each other due to their stressful environment.
At the slaughterhouse, around 86 percent of UK pigs will be gassed to death with a high concentration of carbon dioxide. This gas is highly aversive, and forms an acid on wet surfaces it touches (like the pigs’ eyes, throat, and lungs). Experts have stated that this means they burn from the inside out.
The pigs who aren’t gassed will in theory be stunned before having their throats cut. Stunning pigs is complicated, however, and improper stunning is rife. Many animals will still be alive when they have their throats cut, and some will be conscious when put into scalding tanks of extremely hot water.