'We have a great story to tell' - an opportunity to set the record straight
3rd Jan 2020 / By Alistair Driver
It's that time of year when the vegan agenda is increasingly rammed down the public's throat - vegan activists are handed mainstream TV and radio slots, news vegan products are launched to a loud fanfare and consumer magazines and websites push the vegan lifestyle.
Even the courts are getting involved this time. News is just in that ethical veganism has been ruled as a 'philosophical belief' as should therefore be protected by law and employment tribunal rules. This followed a case taken a former League Against Cruel Sports employee.
Oh, and look out for George Monbiot's 'Apocalypse Cow' on Channel 4 on January 8, explaining why farming has to end soon to save the planet. Or you might want to give that one a miss.
But 'Veganuary' should hold nothing to fear for the UK farming and meat sectors. In fact, the opposite is true, according to an excellent blog from AHDB's Will Jackson, who believes the whole charade presents a great opportunity to put the record straight and highlight the many positives around UK agriculture.
You can view it here. It is well worth the read.
Mr Jackson, AHDB's strategy director for beef & lamb, said: "January should be seen as a huge opportunity to set the record straight, hold our heads high and shout about the positives of livestock farming in the UK. More eyes are on us than normal so let’s showcase what we do and how well we do it to keep this country eating a healthy, balanced diet."
The blog is full of relevant facts and figures, including recent AHDB research showing that farmers are, by far, the most trusted link in the food supply chain – 71% of consumers agree with this, compared with only 6% disagreeing with the sentiment. The research also showed 62% of people feel positive about British agriculture, with only 5% negative towards it.
"This is what our industry should be taking heart from and look towards the new year positively – not feeling under siege from the tiny minority of the population who cut out all animal products from their lives," he said.
In the last year, 98% of UK households bought red meat, while 99.8% bought a dairy product. "This is a higher number of households than bought loo roll! Our work with Kantar also reveals 78% of food consumption decisions are based on taste and enjoyment, something both red meat and dairy offer in spades," Mr Jackson added.
AHDB's pork TV advertising campaign will resumes on January 13, with nutrition messaging running through it to help set the record straight.
AHDB will also continue to use social media to push positive messages about the meat and dairy sectors, supported by advertorials in high-profile titles, and working behind the scenes with social media influencers like Spencer Matthews.
It has produced a number of resources to help the industry promote the positive messages about health and the environment. They can be viewed here
"We have a great story to tell," Mr Jackson said. "It should also be clear that the UK has some of the highest welfare standards in the world. Some products sourced on the international markets lack the same levels of transparency within the supply chain."
"We need not waste time worrying about what those who are promoting alternative lifestyle choices are doing. We can be guilty of being oversensitive, so feel every time a negative comment appears on Twitter, the whole world is against us. They are not," he said, stressing that the industry 'shouldn’t need to speak to the noisy minority.'
"We need to speak to the silent majority who want to continue to enjoy our products as part of a healthy, balanced diet but need the permission to do so," he added.