The campaign to promote veganism by exposing the destructive reality of the animal agriculture industry.

The meat and dairy industries peddle misinformation. It’s time for plant-based food brands to fight back

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It would be a public service, not to mention good business, for the plant-based food and beverage industry to step in, set the record straight, and make the public aware of industrial animal-agriculture’s tactics. All they need to do is get the facts out there. Once they are, they’ll speak for themselves.

BRIAN KATEMAN: Big Dairy has been funding pro-milk public relations campaigns for decades: You’ve without a doubt seen a “Got Milk?” ad on a billboard or in a magazine at some point between the 1990s and now. One of dairy’s biggest rivals, oat milk brand Oatly, has just launched its own campaign in response to the many attack ads plant-based milks have been subject to. Oatly’s campaign takes dairy to task with a seemingly simple offer: free ad space in exchange for the dairy industry releasing information on the climate impact of its products…

The campaign is brilliant in its simplicity: Rather than overtly making any statements or accusations against dairy, their tactic is a (seemingly) simple call for transparency. The catch, of course, is that there are a lot of publicly available, peer-reviewed scientific publications that attest to dairy’s considerable negative environmental impact. Their offer puts the dairy industry in a tricky position: Be transparent and release potentially unflattering facts, or maintain opacity and let the implication speak for itself.

The “Climate Footprint Challenge” campaign isn’t exactly coming out of nowhere. The dairy industry, along with other animal-agriculture industries (including and especially beef), has been launching full-force attacks against plant-based alternatives…

And outside of governmental advocacy, industrial animal agriculture has a robust history of marketing directly to consumers. Oatly’s campaign comes right on the heels of Big Dairy’s latest big-budget marketing project, featuring the famously deadpan-cool Aubrey Plaza. The actress starred in a campaign paid for by the Milk Processor Education Program, a quasi-governmental dairy industry organization administered by the USDA, and the same group behind “Got Milk?”

The ads, which you may have seen recently on TV, subway ads, and Plaza’s own Instagram, promote a phony new product called Wood Milk, a tongue-in-cheek jab at the flavor and nutritional profile of plant-based milks. It concludes with the punchline, “Is Wood Milk real? Absolutely not. Only real milk is real”…

While the Oatly campaign is based around a call for transparency and scientifically supported information, the Wood Milk campaign traffics largely in impressions and public perceptions that aren’t necessarily backed up by any sort of hard facts—not about the nutritional properties of milk, and certainly not about any of the ethical issues relating to its production. It’s part of a larger trend in animal-agriculture industries managing their reputations by obfuscating or casting doubt on legitimate scientific findings and observable realities, like the treatment of animals within the systems of factory farming…

Writing for The Guardian, Joe Fassler detailed several ways in which the beef industry attempts to control the narrative around the environmental impact of industrial cattle farming. In addition to the millions of dollars spent on government lobbying, industry groups are pouring money into controlling public perception through PR and marketing campaigns directed toward consumers…

The ultimate goal appears to be to sow confusion among the public regarding the actual environmental impact of beef, and their PR tactics have been compared by experts to those used by the fossil fuel industry: discredit and downplay any damaging scientific findings. Other arms of the beef industry’s massive PR machine include quietly funding academic research that reaches conclusions favorable to the industry, and the operation of a 24/7 digital command center focused on detecting and preemptively responding to beef-critical conversations happening on the internet and in media. Their expensive, almost cartoonishly villainous tactics are mostly premised on supplying misleading but seemingly scientific information to counteract the valid findings of legitimate, independent research.

Of course, disinformation campaigns from the meat industry aren’t only limited to the environment; they also target health. It’s well established that eating too much meat—especially red and processed meat, like bacon, sausages, and pepperoni—has been linked to everything from heart disease to cancer to diabetes and Alzheimer’s…

It would be a public service, not to mention good business, for the plant-based food and beverage industry to step in, set the record straight, and make the public aware of industrial animal-agriculture’s tactics. Oatly and Beyond Meat can’t do it alone—the plant-based industries should band together the way beef and dairy have to fight their propaganda machine. All they need to do is get the facts out there. Once they are, they’ll speak for themselves. But that doesn’t stop the meat industry and its ambassadors from saying otherwise. SOURCE…

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