A vegan advert that claimed “Humane milk is a myth” featuring a cow behind barbed wire was cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after it received complaints that it was misleading.
The ASA ruled that the full-page advertisement, featured in the Telegraph in February this year, would not mislead those without a specialist knowledge of the dairy industry over the welfare standards employed by farmers.
The ruling effectively allows vegan groups to claim that the UK dairy industry is inhumane.
Farmers Weekly asked Twitter users for their suggestions on how to counter vegan anti-farming campaigns…
Fight back. Get a good advertising team and a strong campaign. Open up to wider industry to invite public in. Get @ArlaFoodsUK on it!
— Nikita Jane Garner (@NikitaJGarner) July 26, 2017
Got to educate people, it is amazing how disconnected from the countryside consumers are.
— John Archer (@JohnArcher8) July 26, 2017
Your difficulty, is trying to explain farming to Urban dwellers far removed from reality, who blank everything that doesn't fit their ideas.
— Kate Robinson (@katerobinson925) July 26, 2017
We should be showing off how good the UK farm standards are. We have some of the best standards world why is the @NFUtweets not promoting
— TheLostFarmer (@The_Lost_Farmer) July 26, 2017
You could probably counter this quite effectively by offering free tastings, of soya milk.
— icenian (@icenianV7) July 26, 2017
The advert, which also appeared in today’s Telegraph, was paid for by Vegan action group GoVeganWorld and cost close to £60,000. It stated: “I went vegan the day I visited a dairy.
“The mothers, still bloody from birth, searched and called frantically for their babies.
“Their daughters, fresh from their mothers’ wombs but separated from them, trembled and cried piteously, drinking milk from rubber teats on the wall instead of their mothers’ nurturing bodies.
“All because humans take their milk. Their sons are slaughtered for their flesh and they themselves are slaughtered at six years.”
It added: “Their natural lifespan is 25 years. I could no longer participate in that. Can you?”
The seven complainants – some of which were from the dairy industry – argued that the ad was not a true reflection of UK dairy farming.
They contested that the phrases “humane milk is a myth,” “the mothers, still bloody from birth” and “their daughters, fresh from their mothers’ wombs but separated from them” were misleading.
But the ASA rejected the complaints, stating consumers would understand that the language used reflected GoVeganWorld’s opinion about the use of animals in food production more generally, and reflected their known beliefs and perspective on the dairy industry.
Farmers Weekly says…
This advertising campaign by GoVeganWorld is clearly a misrepresentation of the UK dairy industry – but unfortunately, this is only clear to those who have an understanding of farming.
With a general public now two or three generations detached from agriculture, exposure to adverts such as “Humane milk is a myth” will influence the public’s perception of UK dairy farming.
It’s all too easy for vegans to spread incorrect statements about farms and farming practices – only this morning (26 July) a vegan chef on Radio 5 said: “I’d like to think that most people did have farms of a higher standard where dairy cows were treated exceptionally well, but I suspect it’s the other way around.”
She added: “Most milk is produced commercially in factory farm conditions and that’s a fact.”
This was despite her stating earlier in the interview that vegan campaigns do sometimes take their message too far.
It’s demoralising for farmers to produce affordable food to the highest global welfare standards while facing a daily barrage from activists who anthropomorphise livestock, and employ overly emotive language to influence consumers.
UK agriculture is in a strong position – the vast majority of the public back farmers and 98% of consumers eat or drink dairy on a daily basis.
Additionally, just 542,000 people in Britain are vegans – equivalent to 0.8% of the population.
But agriculture must not rest on these laurels.
Farming needs to mobilise and pressure the government to get more kids on farms and rebuild the next generation’s understanding of where their food comes from.
Think what you will about our new environment secretary, but few carry the clout or have the experience to make this happen.