The Go Vegan World advertising campaign first launched in June 2015. The following year, the campaign expanded internationally.
According to its organisers, the campaign exists to “educate the public about animal rights, promote veganism, and challenge the legal status of other animals as human property”.
Go Vegan World has caused controversy over the years with its bold vegan messages. Most recently, a billboard campaign designed for London buses – which read ‘Dairy takes Babies from their mothers’, accompanied by an image of a cow and her calf – was cancelled by Exterion Media (now Global media). In Scotland, British Telecom also rejected the advertisement.
Now, controversy is again surrounding Go Vegan World, as farmers – from a sector strongly associated with meat production – asked campaign organisers to reveal funding sources.
IFA demands public disclosure
According to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Joe Healy, an ‘obscure’ animal sanctuary in Ireland is responsible for funding Go Vegan World advertisements.
Therefore, it is this business, the Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary, that has been addressed by the IFA.
“It seems extraordinary that a multi-million-euro advertising campaign across Ireland and the UK would be run from an obscure animal sanctuary in Ireland which is not a registered charity; does not produce audited accounts; and does not disclose where its funding comes from,” said Healy.
“The latest unaudited accounts of the company for 2018 show an income of almost €3m. They need to stop being a secret society and tell the public who is funding them.”
The IFA believes that ‘substantial commercial interests’ are investing in non-meat products. “It’s clear there is also a campaign to deflect from other sectors in the climate debate, including fossil fuels,” added IFA’s president, referencing a Go Vegan World billboard that reads: ‘Eating animal foods contributes more to climate change than transport’.
“I think the public deserve to know who is funding these campaigns,” said Healy. “The Eden Sanctuary needs to come from behind the cloak of secrecy and publish all the sources of its funding.”
Go Vegan World: Aligning with GDPR and ‘respect for our donors’ wishes’
Following up with Go Vegan World and the Sanctuary, a spokesperson told FoodNavigator that neither company publishes the names of its donors. “This is in keeping with GDPR and out of respect for donors’ wishes,” we were told.
The campaign organisers believe the identity of its donors to be ‘irrelevant’ to its work. The spokesperson also suggested that commercial interests here are not at play.
“In our culture where everything has a monetary value, it is difficult to conceive of a purely altruistic motive. Yet, concern for animal rights without public credit, it exactly the motive of those funding Go Vegan World and Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary.
“Our donors support us because they share our moral conviction that it is wrong to use and kill other animals and, like us, they want to see an end to all human use of other animals.”