TESCO’S RECENT advert promoting meat-free sausages has sparked nation-wide fury by the farming sector, some of whom have gone as far as to suggest boycotting the national retailer.

The advert depicts a young girl returning from school to proclaim to her dad that she doesn’t want to eat animals anymore and he responds that he loves meat but that he loves his daughter more, then proceeds to cook her a ‘meat-free cumberland casserole.’

Individuals have aired their disappointment in many ways, with many taking to social media to post their issues with the advert, others sending complaints directly to Tesco and a large number have written officially to the Advertising Standards Agency to request action.

The SF heard from one reader who had made such a move and we were informed that over 140 others had also contacted the ASA council.

Complaints were raised against both the TV and radio advert with the majority of individuals stating that they were ‘offensive and irresponsible as they used a child to promote a particular ethical viewpoint in an emotionally manipulative way, and because they could encourage children to reject meat without a full understanding of the implications of doing so.’

A number of complainants also stated that the ads ‘implied eating meat was less healthy or moral than vegan or a plant-based diet, and that they constituted an attack on the British meat industry.’

Many others highlighted that the adverts were in fact ‘harmful’ because they did not clarify that ‘vegan or plant-based diets could be detrimental to health, particularly in children.’

A statement from ASA confirmed: "Advertisements should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious and widespread offense, harm, or be deemed irresponsible. We base our decisions on the content of the ad, when and where it appears, the audience and the type of product or service being advertised."

That decision was revealed by the council to show no cause for concern, stating that there would be no further investigation: "The council considered that the ads were intended to show that family meals could be easily adapted to accommodate plant-based diets. Whilst they acknowledged that some viewers might have found the use of a child expressing a point of view on such diets to be distasteful, they noted that a contrasting view was featured with the father expressing his love of meat.

"Council also considered that parents would likely have a range of views about how to appropriately feed their children, and that the ads portrayed one example of that, without denigrating other valid opinions on the matter."

The Council added that the NHS has advised that sufficiently well-planned vegan or vegetarian diets are healthy: “The ads did not suggest that meat-free sausages should comprise the entirety of a child’s diet, nor did they endorse any other form of unhealthy dietary practice. Council therefore concluded the ads were unlikely to be considered offensive, harmful or irresponsible."

ASA has contacted Tesco to raise the issues brought to their attention – in case they wish to take on-board the information provided when developing future adverts.