British farmers are launching a campaign to promote eating meat during Veganuary to counteract “misinformation and false truths” on social media.
The Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board says it wants to “give farmers a voice” during a month filled with adverts promoting a vegan lifestyle.
The group said that for many people the weekly shop had become a “moral minefield” and it wanted to help consumers make considered and informed choices.
They said the “We Eat Balanced” campaign was not about competing with the vegan movement, but it hoped to encourage people to think about how they could have a balanced diet, while also doing their bit for the planet by buying British produce.
Environmental campaigners claim that agriculture is one of the main contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions and climate advisors say the public should be urged to eat less meat to help protect the planet.
The National Farmers Union said the stark reality was “it really isn’t as simple as saying plant-based food is good and animal-based food is bad”.
‘Giving farmers a voice’
The campaign by the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) will include a new advertisement that will be broadcast on Channel 4, ITV and Sky as well as on-demand services.
The advert focuses on “an inquisitive little girl” called Nancy along with her grandad learning about the goodness within red meat and dairy, as a natural source of vitamin B12, produced to ‘world-class standards’.
Shoppers will also see the campaign in supermarket meat and dairy aisles. The AHDB hopes to reach 90 per cent of adults over the month.
Its director of marketing, Liam Byrne, said: “January is a key time of year for the campaign to run, as there is a greater emphasis on the ‘reduce meat and dairy’ message to consumers from brands, TV shows and the media in general.
“Through the campaign we are giving farmers a platform and a voice to present the facts about food and farming from the UK, and sharing across industry to make sure we are all using evidence-based information consistently.”
He added: “The We Eat Balanced campaign seeks to reconnect consumers with their food and demonstrates that if you’d like to make small positive changes for the better, then sourcing your meat and dairy from the UK will mean you’re buying a product with a lower carbon footprint, and produced to some of the highest production standards in the world.
“In addition, meat and dairy both contain vitamin B12, an essential nutrient not naturally present in foods of plant origin, so adding a little meat or dairy to your vegetables will boost the number of vitamins in your meal.”
The campaign first started in January of last year, albeit on a smaller scale, but attracted a number of complaints from organisations including The Vegan Society, PETA and Humane League UK. The Advertising Standards Authority ultimately dismissed all of the complaints.
A spokesman for the National Farmers Union said: “What we eat is a personal choice and it’s important we all make informed decisions. It really isn’t as simple as saying plant-based food is good and animal-based food is bad – it all depends on where and how it has been produced.
“Livestock farming in the UK is very different to the large-scale systems in the US or in Brazil where it is causing deforestation. Our greenhouse gas emissions from beef are less than half the global average and our cattle are reared on grass-based diets, grazing fields that store a significant amount of carbon.”