Consumers face a potentially confusing mix of messages in January as campaigns supporting either meat-eating or a vegan diet go head-to-head for their attention.
In response to the global Veganuary movement, a lobby group for the meat and dairy sector, the AHDB, will launch an advertising drive and social media campaign to encourage the consumption of meat and dairy.
Through a £1.5 million TV and digital advertising campaign called ‘Eat Balanced’, the group said it aims to respond to the increased negativity surrounding meat and dairy.
The campaign is based around the nutrient benefits of eating red meat and dairy, including vitamin B12 and iron, and which it says “are not naturally present in a vegan diet”.
Before its official launch, the news has already reignited a polarised debate on meat versus vegan diets on social media, with livestock farmers pointing out the accuracy of the nutrient information, and vegan proponents claiming that livestock is often fed nutrient additives. Others have questioned whether such a divisive campaign approach is useful at all.
The AHDB is also promoting the high food and farming standards in the UK, and has launched a new website with further information, and recipes.
“Our farmers operate to some of the highest standards in the world and this campaign aims to balance the negative commentary around farming as well as the importance of eating red meat and dairy as part of a balanced and healthy diet,” said the AHDB chief marketing and communications officer, Christine Watts.
Susie Stannard, AHDB’s consumer insight manager, said the campaign would targeting consumers open to reducing their red meat and dairy consumption.
“Our research has shown about one-in-five people are waverers and this is likely down to them seeing some negative news about red meat or dairy, either from an animal welfare point of view or the environment which has become a big factor in recent years,” Stannard told the Farmers Guardian.
Meanwhile the Veganuary campaign, the global pledge to try a vegan diet for 31 days, have recruited celebrities as ambassadors to share their top reasons to try vegan.
Ambassadors include reality star James Moore, actor Peter Egan, and Harry Potter actor Evanna Lynch and the 2021 campaign hopes to build on last year, when 400,000 people from 192 countries participated in the month.
Presenter of BBC’s Springwatch and vegan Chris Packham, has also lent his voice to the movement.
“Trashing the planet does none of us any good, as the coronavirus pandemic shows all too clearly. But we can emerge from this stronger and wiser, with a renewed commitment to protecting the environment, its inhabitants and our own futures. Being vegan is a great way to support the natural world and to live sustainably.”
Despite the profile of the Veganuary campaign, less than two per cent of the UK population are fully vegan, according to the Vegan Society.