Farming News - MacMillan to no longer "actively promote" Meat Free March

MacMillan to no longer "actively promote" Meat Free March

05 Feb 2020
Frontdesk / Livestock

The National Farmers Union in Scotland has written to two charities, concerned over their campaigns urging people to give up meat for a month.

The union accused Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK of "regrettable" fundraising.

It says they have been caught up in an "ill-informed debate" about livestock production, diet and climate change.

The charities say the initiatives are abstinence challenges, and are not promoting lifestyle changes.


But Bob Carruth from the NFU told BBC Radio Orkney: "The disappointment is that these are two charities [that are] loved and very well supported among the rural community, but with these fundraising initiatives, they've caused a great deal of anger and upset amongst farmers, and that's prompted the need for us to contact these organisations."

"If we were to turn it on its head, there was actually an opportunity here for these charities to have a far more positive campaign

"If they'd had a campaign around healthy eating, or a campaign around people committing to only buy local produce, or eating their five-a-day, then all those in Scotland who produce meat and dairy, eggs, cereals, vegetables, soft fruit, would gladly have come in behind them.

"Macmillan said its "Meat Free March" campaign has not attracted the number of supporters it had hoped for and it would no longer "actively promote" it.

The charity apologised for upsetting some supporters.

Cancer Research's "Veg Pledge" runs throughout November. It said it was one of many fundraising campaigns it runs throughout the year, which are "vital in helping to fund our life-saving work".

In its letter, NFU Scotland argue that red meat provides "a raft of essential ingredients" that cannot be sourced naturally from anywhere else. It says that makes "an invaluable contribution to nutrient intakes in a healthy diet".

It has asked the two charities to recognise the "anger and frustration" their campaigns have caused, and to "take steps to ensure that the agricultural community would be able to give them full support in future".

Macmillan website

Image courtesy MacMillan

A spokesperson for Macmillan Cancer Support said Meat Free March "wasn't aimed at encouraging people to go meat free forever. The diet people follow is entirely a personal choice. Our only recommendation is that it's balanced."

Sarah Pickersgill, head of marketing services at Cancer Research UK, said: "Veg Pledge is a short-term fundraising campaign which challenges people to go vegetarian or vegan for one month.

"For anyone that decides to take part on this month-long challenge, our focus is encouraging them to get sponsorship and raise money for life-saving research."

Mr Carruth said these fundraising schemes had added to a sense among red meat and dairy producers that their industry was under attack.

He said: "We have a fantastic story to tell about the contribution that our industry makes, not just to the food chain and to healthy diets, but in terms of our green, environmental credentials as well."