MANY farmers have been outraged this week by two major cancer charities asking for people to go meat-free for a month with a view to raising money for them.

A social media storm has seen many from the industry – which has been a huge supporter of the charities, Macmillan and Cancer Research – cancel standing orders and stop giving donations to both.

Finlay Munro, from Easter Ross, has written to the Macmillan charity's CEO, pointing out in his letter: "Unsupported by facts relating to the UK, your 'Meat-free for March' campaign is evidence of yet another organisation jumping on the bandwagon to bash red meat and promote veganism. It will have a profound and damaging effect on the rural economy in the UK.

"It blatantly ignores any advice given by your own organisation on the need for a nutrient dense diet during treatment, or on a balanced diet in general day-to-day wellbeing," wrote Mr Munro.

"This rural Highland area, like so many others, has given so much to your organisation. Just one local fund-raising event, staged at Dingwall Mart – where they sell livestock, among other things – raised, I understand, some £125,000. My mother-in-law had a brush with cancer, following which, as a family, we donated one of our cattle to this sale. We never did get a thank you letter."

Cancer sufferer, Fiona Sloan, from Dumfries, commented: "As someone who has lived with cancer for 21 years and supported Macmillan Nurses since that time, I am really disappointed that they have jumped on the vegan bandwagon. This is the final straw for me. I have cancelled my monthly standing order!

"This industry, through individuals, Young Farmers, farming groups and the amazing Farmers Choir, has raised millions for this organisation but to suggest we can help prevent cancer by not eating meat for a month is total nonsense! Stop blaming farmers for everything!" she said.

"I sincerely hope the vegan donations they hope to receive outweighs the support they are about to lose from this healthy food producing industry. I doubt it!"

Many others have contacted The SF to voice their concerns and in response, Rachel Murphy, from Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We’re very sorry this fundraising challenge has upset people in the farming community. This was never our intention.

"As a charity funded almost entirely by the public, we’re extremely grateful for the generous support we’ve had over many years from people in rural and farming communities across Scotland. Without their fantastic support, we wouldn’t have been there for so many people with cancer when they needed us.

“Meat-free March is a one-month fundraiser aimed at those who enjoy meat, but who want to challenge themselves to go without it for a month to raise money for people with cancer. It’s not 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 healthy and balanced.

“This is one of a number of new fundraising challenges we’re trialling to attract more supporters. We’re really disappointed that some people feel they can’t continue to support our work because of this challenge.”