Farmers and vegans are at loggerheads after a heated exchange on irish radio yesterday following a controversial advertising campaign in the UK.
The advertisement campaign was set up by the group Go Vegan World, founded by Sandra Higgins. Since the adverts introduction to the world, the Advertising Standards Agency has received a high volume of complaints, from mostly dairy farmers.
The advert depicts a dairy cow with her calf and the words "Dairy takes babies from their mothers". The advert insinuates that farmers have little or no regard for the welfare of these young animals and their mothers. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) have rejected all complaints received.
The advert was the subject of a debate on Newstalk Drive yesterday.
On the programme were Sandra Higgins, founder of Go Vegan World Ireland, and the President of the ICMSA, John Comer. Sandra Higgins argued on the side of the UK vegan group, a spin off from her original organisation.
She backed the campaign fully as she added, "People have the right to know what dairy is predicated on".
"Everytime we hand over money for cheese, milk or ice cream, products that we think are harmless, but are actually extremely harmful for the animals exploited" Sandra said.
Before adding that "every baby needs its mother, not only humans but in all mammals, and birds as well".
Sandra continued, "All of us are extremely vulnerable after birth. We need mother for psychological development as well as physical".
Higgins argued that most people were "unaware", and says she herself "used to think dairy was harmless".
John Comer, ICMSA president, argued that the advert serves as a major misrepresentation of the dairy industry.
"I have a major problem with the misrepresentation of the situation, that is a polar opposite view of what I would have and a vast majority of the world's population would have" he said, adding that he has "no problem" with vegans whatsoever.
Comer argued that the way of life "goes against all nutritional recommendations"
"All the nutritional evidence we have to date, supports a balanced diet that incorporate dairy" Comer argued, adding that the teenage groups who will see the ad are very influential".
Higgin's refuted Comer's claims of it going against all nutritional advice, arguing that her website has resources which support and support the benefits of a vegan diet, before stating that meat has been linked to human illnesses.
"A 100% plant diet is more than adequate for human nutritional needs. In fact many animals (meats) are associated with illnesses people are suffering from", Sandra added.
John Comer completely rejected these suggestions, and argued that a plant based diet requires supplements to balance out for a lack of meat.
"I Refute that out of hand. (Vegans) have to consume cocktail and cocktail of products, just to compensate" Comer added.
Comer also said that the dairy industry are of the highest standard within the industry, adhering to EU regulations. The pair did agree though, with both acknowledging that separation can be more difficult for the animals the longer they are kept with their mothers. While Higgins added "these animals wouldn't exist" without dairy farmers. Comer concluded by saying we would all be still four ft 3 inches if we hadn't a balanced diet, which includes dairy.
"We don't not have the right to own and exploit animals, who has the same feeling as we do" Higgins stated in trying to get the message of the advert across.
The advert has certainly been making waves in the UK and surrounding countries.
To listen back to the Debate on Newstalk's Drive programme, visit here
Picture courtesy of GoVegan World.