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It’s no secret that plant-based options are becoming more popular – with more and more people opting to reduce their meat intake.
While this growing trend is good news for the planet and animals, some people are not happy about it – animal farmers.
Over the past few months, farmers have complained about pro-plant-based messages multiple times – here are four examples.
1.Urging people to boycott Tesco – for selling vegan sausages
Earlier this year, UK supermarket Tesco released a TV, radio, and poster advert campaign for its vegan sausages.
Carl’s ‘All-Change’ Casserole features a father called Carl, who reformulates his sausage casserole recipe after his young daughter comes home from school one day and says: “I don’t want to eat animals anymore.”
The advert racked up column inches when the National Farmers Union released a statement accusing Tesco of ‘demonizing’ farmers.
Some took it even further, with a post shared in groups on Facebook saying: “This November please support our British Farmers in boycotting Tesco. Time and again, they have penalized and walked roughshod over our farmers, and it’s time we stood united with them.
“A boycott for November will send a clear message that their behavior towards British Farming is unacceptable.”
Tesco said: “Our aim is always to offer choice. We remain absolutely committed to working in partnership with all our UK farmers, and we value the vital role they play in providing food for our customers.”
2.Branded the BBC as being ‘against livestock farming’
The NFU made headlines again recently, after branding an advert created by the BBC an ‘agenda against livestock farming’.
The animated advertisement features a turkey wearing a jumper that says ‘I Love Vegans’ – while pointing to a map of the UK with photos of meat-free dishes.
The ad also shows turkeys cheering as it’s announced: ‘less of us have been gobbled this year’.
While the BBC called the ad ‘comedic and playful’ and not an ‘endorsement or encouragement of a vegan lifestyle’, some farmers were very unhappy.
“We are deeply concerned that the BBC appears to have started campaigning for a vegan diet in advertising for its Christmas programming, none of which appears to cover veganism in its schedule,” Stuart Roberts, Vice President of the Union, told the Telegraph.
“It doesn’t appear to sit within the BBC’s editorial guidelines, which clearly states that they shouldn’t be a campaigning organization, and this advert takes our concerns about the BBC’s impartiality in its coverage of meat issues a step further.”
3.Told people to ignore a documentary which looked at meat production
A recent BBC documentary, Meat: A Threat To Our Planet, featured presenter Liz Bonnin traveling around the world in a bid to ‘to investigate the impact that our hunger for meat is having on our planet’s environment’.
The program showed her visiting Texan megafarms, as well as the Amazon rainforest, where she discovers how beef farming is a leading cause of deforestation.
The Nation Farmers Union’s vice-president Stuart Roberts described the film as ‘the latest in a long line of attacks from the BBC’ which ‘singled out red meat production as a leading cause of climate change’.
“The title of the program is clearly alarmist and, we believe, misleading in its own right,” he wrote in a blog post for Farmers Guardian.
“It has been frustrating to see the continued media portrayal of red meat production as the same throughout the world – especially when the truth is that British red meat is some of the most sustainable in the world, produced by farmers who care – with a greenhouse gas footprint 2.5 times lower than the global average.”
London butchers Buckinghams went further, tweeting to tell people ‘do not pay attention to the BBC program tonight’, using the hashtag ‘meat with integrity’ to describe its livestock.
4.Urged students to support farmers instead of ban beef
A number of universities have changed their policies around meat in recent times – with the University of Cambridge revealing earlier this year that it has slashed its food-related emissions by ditching beef and lamb.
One of the latest facilities to reduce the availability of red meat on campus is the University of East Anglia, whose Student Union voted to ban the sale of beef from Union-run on-campus outlets.
The student-elected Union passed the motion for climate change reasons, saying students are becoming more concerned by the climate crisis.
Oliver Rubinstein, the National Farmers’ Union East Anglia advisor, said: “We were disappointed to hear of this decision and we have contacted the UEA and asked to meet them. The National Farmers Union is committed to tackling climate change, and we have ambitious plans for the industry to be net-zero by 2040.
“But we won’t achieve this by curbing our own production and exporting it abroad to countries that don’t have the same environmental standards or climate ambitions that we have here. The UEA is surrounded by many, high-welfare, sustainable producers of beef, and these farmers need its support.
“It would be much better for UEA to commit to sourcing locally, instead of penalizing farmers who are doing the right thing for the environment and food security.”