To B12 or not to B12? Whatever the response, the slogan has ruffled some feathers in the vegan world.
According to The Vegan Society, the phrase – used by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in a recent advertising campaign – ‘presents a false narrative’.
It suggests one can only have vitamin B12 by eating animal products, noted the charity, “when we know it is routinely supplemented on the vegan diet, through fortified foods including milk alternatives, some breakfast cereals and yeast extracts”.
The slogan is part of AHDB’s new marketing campaign titled: ‘We Eat Balanced’.
According to the levy board, which is funded by UK farmers and growers, the campaign aims to ‘inform and educate consumers’ on how eating a balanced diet, which ‘includes red meat and dairy’ is a ‘sustainable way to enjoy food’.
A TV advert promoting the ‘Eat Balanced’ campaign was first broadcast on 4 January. It aims to highlight the nutritional benefits of enjoying red meat and dairy, noted AHDB.
The board is also targeting social media channels: “We are…flooding social media with a range of engaging social media posts that are designed to get the nation talking about why a balanced diet is a healthy and sustainable way to eat.”
The ‘To B12 Or Not to B12’ slogan is part of the campaign’s social media assets. Other slogans include ‘How Green is Milk?’; ‘How Green is Red Meat?’ and an asset highlighting low intake of iron in UK teenage girls reads: ‘Iron Out the Facts’.
The campaign ‘sends the wrong message’
The Vegan Society, which claims the new adverts are ‘likely to mislead members of the public’, has lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
“The nature, tone and messaging of the campaign, made up of a series of adverts that have been running across television, print and social media extensively throughout January, sends the wrong message to those currently following, or considering, a healthy and balanced plant-based diet,” noted the charity.
Further, The Vegan Society believes the campaign is in ‘direct conflict’ with government messaging around health, the environment and supplementation.
“The AHDB has set out to mislead the public by denigrating the choices of people who don’t want to eat animal products. Most vegans are aware of the need to supplement B12 in fortified foods or a vitamin supplement and by doing so vegans can maintain a balanced diet,” said campaigns manager at The Vegan Society, Mark Banahan.
“It is disappointing to see the ADHB resorting to such scare tactics in response to the growing interest in veganism and in reducing animal products.”
AHDB confirmed it is aware a complaint has been made to the ASA, telling FoodNavigator it ‘will respond as required’.