Vegan advert banned after complaints of graphic violence towards animals

·3-min read
A still from the Vegan Friendly UK advert that has been banned (Vegan Friendly UK)
A still from the Vegan Friendly UK advert that has been banned (Vegan Friendly UK)

A television advert for a vegan non-profit organisation has been banned for showing “graphic imagery and gratuitous violence” towards animals.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it received 63 complaints about the advert by Vegan Friendly UK

In its ruling, the watchdog said the advert – which included the image of a skinned cow’s head – was “graphic in nature” and must not appear again in its current form.

Some complainants said the advert caused “unnecessary distress” to viewers, while others objected to the scheduling of the TV spot as “it was broadcast when children could be watching”.

The ASA upheld these complaints, but dismissed a third that complained the advert “vilified meat eaters” and said the advert’s negative portrayal of its characters were “exaggerated for effect”.

Vegan Friendly UK argued that the advert did not cause distress and if any offence was caused, it was “justifiable because billions of animals were killed in the meat industry”.

The advert showed two women and one man eating around a table while discussing the mistreatment of animals and people in the food industry.

The first person, who was pictured eating fish, said: “And plastic straws are ruining the oceans. Poor fish don’t stand a chance.”

Her statement was followed with three clips, including one of live fish being moved on a conveyer belt, a close-up of a fish head gasping for air, and a headless fish being filleted on a chopping board with blood and fish guts strewn over it.

The advert then returned to the table and the man said: “There’s countries that still have bullfighting.” The first woman added: “And wet markets.”

The men replied: “They just don’t care about animals like we do, babe.”

A close-up of his meal is then followed by a clip of a live piglet standing over a larger adult pig that has its eyes closed. Pork meat is then shown being chopped with a cleaver, followed by blood splashing on a takeaway box with the words “sweet and sour pork”.

The table is shown again and the third person said: “Let’s not even mention human rights issues.”

The first woman replied: “Can we all just treat living beings the same please?” to which the other woman said: “That’s real equality.”

A close-up of her burger is shown before a clip of a cow’s face that appeared to have a tear falling from its eye.

Several clips are shown in quick succession, interspersed with clips of the three people eating their food in a messy way.

The clips include a piglet and pig’s eyes with the sound of squealing, a fish out of water, and the eye of a chicken accompanied by squawking.

The last two clips were of the face of a live cow, followed by a cow’s skinned head, with its eyes and teeth still present.

The advert’s last shot is of the three people continuing to eat, with text that said: “No animal was harmed, consumed or purchased to make this advert. Make the connection.”