A vegan media campaign accusing the dairy industry of animal cruelty has been slammed by the NFU.

The adverts, which featured in the Sunday Telegraph a fortnight ago, have also appeared on billboards and on the sides of buses and taxis in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and London.

The organisation behind the campaign, Go Vegan World, also advertised on billboards at the Stadio Olimpico during the Italy v Ireland Six Nations rugby match last weekend, which attracted millions of television viewers.

The founder and director of the campaign, Sarah Higgins, described human’s treatment of animals as the greatest tragedy the world has ever witnessed.

“This campaign aims to reflect the truth of the consequences for them of our non-vegan lifestyle values and choices, casting a light into the hidden, dark world of human predation on defenceless others.

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“The health benefits of veganism or any of the other benefits of veganism are not usually sufficient to ensure that people cease their participation in all animal use.”

In an open letter to the Sunday Telegraph, NFU dairy board chairman, Michael Oakes expressed his shock at seeing the misleading advertising campaign.

“Adverts such as this paint an incorrect picture of the UK dairy industry and dishearten the nation’s dairy farmers, for whom the health, welfare and care of dairy cows and calves is incredibly important.

“About half of our beef production comes from the dairy herd – a vital source of both calves for prime beef production and cow beef.

“For calves to reach their potential they need to be happy and healthy, whether the future is within the dairy herd or within the beef supply chain.

Back Red Tractor

Mr Oakes championed the work of the Red Tractor kite mark, which applies to nearly all British farms and promotes high animal welfare, environmental and food standards.

“It [Red Tractor] also means farmers comply with specific standards, for calves and cows.

“This includes calves having visual and tactile contact with other calves.

“Dairy farmers have had a horrendous two years of sustained low milk prices and we are grateful for the fantastic support we have received from the British public.”

Mr Oakes added: “Shoppers can be confident in dairy products displaying the Red Tractor logo and we urge them to continue to back and value British dairy farming.”