Cancer charity Macmillan has announced it will no longer ‘actively’ promote its Meat-Free March campaign, following backlash from farmers.
The charity, which encouraged people to abstain from eating meat for 31 days to fundraise for cancer, ran into harsh criticism from farmers, claiming the initiative ‘alienated’ the farming community.
Taking to social media, several farmers spoke out against the campaign, some of whom said it was a ‘kick in the teeth’ following the efforts they had gone to in the past to raise money for Macmillan.
The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) also expressed its disappointment and branded the campaign ‘totally disgraceful’.
An AIMS spokesperson said: “The farming community is a big supporter of cancer charities but maybe they will now think twice and perhaps just support a local hospice or more worthy charities.”
Pointing to the nutritional benefits of eating red meat, NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick claimed the charity’s campaign was ‘ill-informed’.
He said: “It is extremely important that the facts around the role of staples like meat, dairy and eggs in a healthy diet and Scottish farming’s green credentials are fairly represented and these charities have a responsibility to do that.
“We hope these important charities recognise the anger and frustration that these campaigns have caused and take steps to ensure that the agricultural community can return to giving them their full support in the future.”
Responding to criticism, Macmillan issued a statement apologising for the ‘upset’ the campaign had caused to the farming community, confirming it would no longer promote the event.
Rachel Murphy, from Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We are 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 are extremely grateful for the generous support we have had over many years from people in rural and farming communities across Scotland.
“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 is 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 is healthy and balanced.”
Farmers have now called for Macmillan to end the Meat-Free March campaign, rather than just not promote it.