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Translink removes vegan adverts after Northern Ireland farmers' outrage

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One of the advertisements on a Translink bus

One of the advertisements on a Translink bus

One of the advertisements on a Translink bus

Public transport operator Translink has said it is removing advertisements on its buses promoting veganism, following criticism from Northern Ireland farmers.

On Friday, the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) said it felt the ads "wrongly demonise the livestock industry to promote the vegan lifestyle" and members were outraged.

One of the adverts reads "it's not a personal choice when someone is killed, use plants not animals", while another says "dairy takes babies from their mothers".

Following the criticism, Translink initially said it is "sympathetic" to the pressures facing farmers in Northern Ireland and advertising on its vehicles is handled by third party "media specialist".

A spokeswoman also said by carrying the vegan material it was not taking a stance on the issue.

On Saturday, however, Translink issued an updated statement, reading: “These bus-side advertisements are in the process of being removed."

UFU President Ivor Ferguson said many UFU members rely on Translink's services and many in the farming community were "outraged" by the adverts.

"A public service should be impartial on all matters, but the vegan adverts on the Translink buses use emotive language that singles out our local farmers and has the potential to do serious damage to our agriculture industry and the livelihood of our farming families," he said.

"Our produce is farmed to some of the highest environmental and animal welfare standards in the world so that consumers can enjoy quality food without worrying about what it contains or where it came from but Translink’s adverts dismisses the facts helping to perpetuate a negative narrative about eating meat and consuming dairy products.”

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One of the advertisements on a Translink bus

One of the advertisements on a Translink bus

Mr Ferguson said that to "demonise" the livestock industry to promote another is "wrong".

"Northern Ireland is the envy of the world when it comes to high-quality food production and animal welfare standards, the agri-food industry turns over £4.5billion annually supporting the Northern Ireland economy and one in every eight jobs in the UK, our farmers care for the environment and many have diversified their businesses helping to boost tourism in local areas, all of which benefits Translink," he added.

In response to Mr Ferguson's comments, Go Vegan World, the organisation behind the adverts, said they "merely quote facts about animal use".

Go Vegan World director Sandra Higgins said: “We see this objection to our ads as an indication that people are uncomfortable about earning a living from exploiting defenceless animals and consumers are uncomfortable about creating a demand for the violence of animal agriculture or any other form of animal exploitation.”

"Go Vegan World has always stated that it is not opposed to farmers: it is opposed to their use of other animals as commodities for profit. In fact, Go Vegan World works with farmers to help them transition to a more ethical way of earning a living that is also more sustainable and more environmentally friendly."

Belfast Telegraph