'Meat Free March' backfires for Macmillan Cancer Support
Macmillan took a leaf out of Veganuary's book in a fundraising campaign, but heavy pushback from farmers has brought 'Meat Free March' to a halt.
Macmillan Cancer Support sought to launch a month-long abstinence fundraising challenge akin to 'Movember' this March. The plan was to encourage people to avoid meat for the whole month, raising money through fundraising as they did so. On the Macmillan website is a whole host of resources for those taking part: they have advice about getting through the challenge and getting more funding; they have posters and badges so people can publicise their participation; they even have a meal planner to help people adjust to the new culinary challenges.
However, the charity has stopped promoting the new campaign after receiving criticism from a variety of meat industry representatives. An open letter from NFU (National Farmers Union) Scotland released this week expressed the concern within the meat industry that another anti-meat campaign on the horizon. The NFU Scotland were dismayed to see that both the charity and the meat industry is caught up once again in what they view as an "ill-informed debate", and accused the charity were "jumping on the bandwagon".
The NFU targetted both Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK, who run a 'Veg-Pledge' every November.
Neither the Cancer Research UK nor the Macmillan Cancer Support campaign make links between meat consumption and cancer. All they are supposed to be, according to spokespeople from both charities, are abstinence challenges. Understandably, though, farmers are concerned that there is an implicit link between meat and cancer being conveyed.
Heather Pearl from Macmillan said that the sole purpose of the challenge was to raise money for the charity's important work, and not to encourage lifestyle changes:
“Meat Free March was designed as a one-month challenge for those who enjoy meat, but who wanted to test their willpower for a month while raising money for people with cancer. It wasn’t aimed at encouraging people to go meat-free forever. The diet people follow is entirely a personal choice. Our only recommendation is that it’s balanced."
Nonetheless, Bob Carruth from the NFU told BBC Radio Orkney: "The disappointment is that these are two charities [that are] loved and very well supported among the rural community, but with these fundraising initiatives, they've caused a great deal of anger and upset amongst farmers, and that's prompted the need for us to contact these organisations."
Mr Carruth said these campaigns have added to an already burgeoning sense among red meat and dairy producers that they are under attack.
Macmillan has since stopped promoting the campaign, citing low interest as the reason. It has also apologized for any offense caused.