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Vegetarian Environmental Greenwashing

ASA chastises Tesco over greenwashing plant burger claims


By John Glenday, Reporter

June 8, 2022 | 3 min read

Tesco has been chastised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for a series of TV, radio, press and social adverts proclaiming, without evidence, that its vegetarian burgers can save the planet.


The ASA found fault with the Tesco ad’s environmental claims

The campaign centered on the supermarket chain’s Plant Chef products, which were advertised as being ‘good for your pocket, even better for the planet.’ At issue was the statement that the consumption of meat-free products was ‘better for the planet,’ which 171 complainants said was misleading and unsubstantiated.

Standing its ground, Tesco said that it made no absolute environmental claims and did not expressly state that 100% plant-based products were either wholly sustainable or good for the planet. Instead the grocer emphasized the ‘swapping’ element of the campaign, pointing to the fact that foregoing meat for a plant-based diet would, on balance, be better for the environment.

Weighing in on the matter, the ASA said that environmental claims must cover the full lifecycle of the product and that any comparative claims must be accompanied by an environmental benefit comparison with the competing product, as per the CAP and BCAP Codes.

The regulator observed: “Notwithstanding the general benefits of plant-based diets in broad environmental terms, it would not necessarily always be the case that specific plant-based products would always be guaranteed to have a lower carbon or environmental impact than specific meat-based products.”

In light of these failings, the ASA ordered that the ads must not be repeated in their current form, as well as a warning that any future environmental claims be fully substantiated.

The contents of your dinner plate have become a frontline in the battle to arrest climate change, prompting efforts to see how well carnivores and vegans can co-habitate.

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