Waitrose has apologised for offending vegans by advertising meat and dairy during ITV's first plant-based cooking show.
Viewers of Living on the Veg hit out at the supermarket, who sponsor the broadcaster's Sunday morning cooking segment, after its advert at the beginning and end of the episode featured animal products.
The 10-part series, which aired last Sunday, is ITV’s first ever vegan cooking show. It features internet chef sensations Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, founders of the vegan recipe channel BOSH!, which has 1.5 billion views online.
Each week the duo are joined by guests in the kitchen for their signature recipes. Last Sunday’s episode saw the pair tackle a plant-based Sunday roast with actress Sadie Frost.
But viewers were shocked to discover that the highly anticipated show was “sponsored by farm animals”.
One user, Matt Jackson wrote on Twitter: “Gotta love the vegan TV show on ITV London, adverts topped and tailed with chickens and cows - sponsored by Waitrose. You couldn’t make it up.”
Another, Meg, a nurse and practicing vegan, wrote that “a little thought around the program advertising would’ve been nice”.
A third asked for the advert to be scrapped entirely, as it was “misleading”.
“Can you please replace the Waitrose sponsorship images of cows, chickens and eggs around the Living on the Veg plant-based cooking show?" they tweeted.
“It's totally misleading. I am sure you can use images of plants, fruits and veggies to be more appropriate.”
One person simply wrote that a vegan cooking show “sponsored by farm animals” was “awkward”.
Waitrose said they were “sorry for the sponsorship credits” and that they were not aware of the subject of the programme in advance.
Charities also hit out at the sponsorship advert and said Waitrose had “missed a trick” as they could have instead used the slot to advertise their vegan range.
Dr Samantha Calvert, head of communications for The Vegan Society said: "It doesn't make good commercial sense, there's no point in offending viewers who will be looking to buy their Waitrose range.
"I can only hope that the airtime was sold months in advance.”
She added that she hoped the public criticism would be seen by the brand “as an opportunity to promote their vegan range” as "more people move towards" the diet.
PETA Director of Vegan Corporate Projects, Dawn Carr said: “Waitrose missed a trick here. “Rather than flogging animal parts that fewer and fewer people want, the supermarket chain could have seized the opportunity to showcase its impressive range of plant-based meal options.
“People are ditching meat, dairy, and eggs in favour of delicious vegan foods, which are kinder to our bodies, the environment, and, of course, animals.”
A Waitrose & Partners spokesperson said: "We're sorry for the sponsorship credits used around this programme on Sunday - our credits top and tail a number of food shows on ITV and we didn't know the subject of this one in advance."
They added that they were in contact with ITV and would “make sure that all foods featured in the future are more matched to the topics in the show".
An ITV spokesperson said: “Waitrose's sponsorship with ITV is pegged around Sunday morning cookery programming, as opposed to the Living on the Veg show specifically.
“As such the brand idents are tailored around cookery themes, and absolutely no offence was intended.”
The next episode of Living on the Veg airs on ITV on Sunday morning and will feature meat-loving weatherman Alex Beresford, as the pair attempt to convince him that their big bosh burger lives up to his meaty favourites.