The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has cleared an ad from a vegan campaign group which claims that 'humane milk is a myth', despite complaints from the dairy industry that it is "misleading".
Go Vegan World took out a national newspaper ad in February which showed an image of a cow behind barbed wire. The ad's strapline read: 'Humane milk is a myth. Don’t buy it,' while other accompanying text stated that female cows 'still bloody from birth' are separated from their calves who were forced to drink milk from rubber udders 'all because humans take their milk.'
The watchdog said it received a total of seven complaints about the ad, some from members of the dairy industry who believed it didn't accurately describe the way that dairy cattle were generally treated in the UK.
Go Vegan World said the ad did not state or imply that calves were separated from their mothers prior to the 12 to 24 hours recommended by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). In any case, it believed that the exact timing of the separation was irrelevant to the ad, which it said "commented on the injustice of separating cow and calf."
The ASA has given the campaign and its strapline the all clear. It said that although the language used to express the claims was "emotional and hard-hitting," it understood it was the case that calves were generally separated from their mothers very soon after birth, and that the ad was unlikely to materially mislead readers.
The regulator said it was clear that the ad was for a vegan pressure group. It argued that consumers would understand the language used reflected the group’s own views about the use of animals in the production of food, as well as its known beliefs and perspective on the dairy industry.
The ruling comes amid an ongoing debate around the conditions imposed on animals during the conventional dairy farming process, and just one month after the ASA banned an ad from Arla which claimed its milk was 'good for the land'.