05 August 1999
Veggie attack puts industry on defensive

By Robert Davies

FARMERS and meat industry representatives are trying to limit the damage caused by a campaign launched by a militant anti-meat group supported by Paul McCartney.

Vegetarians International Voice for Animals (Viva) claims that that 150,000 pregnant cows are slaughtered every year to supply minced beef for beefburgers.

Furthermore, the group alleges that unborn calves from the slaughtered carcasses are left to thrash and drown in piles of waste on the concrete floors of abattoirs.

Viva is supported by Paul McCartney, the ex-Beatle whose late wife Linda was a campaigning vegetarian and animal welfare sympathiser.

Juliet Gellatley, Vivas director, claims that “90% of the slaughtered cows are dairy cattle, and the main reason for killing them is lack of fertility”.

A campaign leaflet to be handed out during a week of action focused on burger bars has a photograph of a pregnant cow captioned “this is your burger”.

Another picture of bloody calf labelled “this is the trash” is used to encourage consumers to go vegetarian and to send donations to Viva.

Alan Morris, spokesman for the Farmers Union of Wales, said the blatant lies in the Viva statements were the real trash.

The extreme level of ignorance over the 30-month age regulations and slaughterhouse controls would be a sick joke if the consequences were not so serious, he said.

Richard Lowe, a Meat and Livestock Commission director, said Viva was using gross lies to for ill-conceived short-term publicity at the expense of hard working farmers.

“As usual Viva has chosen to ignore the true facts in favour of misleading claims and emotive language in order to further its cause,” he insisted.

Every slaughterhouse had an animal welfare officer and there was full veterinary supervision of meat hygiene and animal welfare, said Mr Lowe.

Since the BSE crisis in 1996, only cattle under 30-months-old have been allowed into the human food chain.

“All British animals over 30-months, which include dairy cows, are slaughtered in separate plants and incinerated,” said Mr Lowe.

Viva is planning to launch the campaign in central London, using children wearing blood-stained calf masks inside rubbish bins labelled “Burger trash”.