Insights Nigel Fairbrass

Cowboys and Vegetarians

The meat and dairy industry declared its beef with the vegetarian movement this week, as it published a report on the growing number of vegans, flexitarians and plant-based food converts.

[vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” text_align=”left” background_animation=”none” css_animation=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]The meat and dairy industry declared its beef with the vegetarian movement this week, as it published a report on the growing number of vegans, flexitarians and plant-based food converts.

Responding to the popularity of trends such as Meat Free Monday and Veganuary, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) examined the factors ‘driving media attention’ to what it frostily calls ‘the plant-based food trend’.  This has seen vegan designations overtake gluten free as the fastest growing dietary requirement on UK menus.

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”677″ img_size=”full” qode_css_animation=”” css=”.vc_custom_1538415596709{margin-top: 32px !important;margin-bottom: 32px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Impact? Employing logic that appears to deliberately conflate correlation and causation, the AHDB identifies that many vegans are young, female and technologically proficient at using Instagram to promote alternative diets: “By claiming their credentials as a vegan, young people believe this shows the world they are ethical, healthy and environmentally aware,’ the report condescends. ‘They have taken to Instagram to follow vegan celebrities and lifestyle bloggers such as Big Gay Vegan and Deliciously Ella. In fact, the growth of veganism has partially been fuelled by the growth in Instagram.’  The report then takes aim again at young women, pointing to high rates of anaemia among menstruating women, something that can easily be remedied by eating more red meat according to the report.


Response? The dairy and meat industries faces death by a thousand cuts as we have observed herebefore, and this report gave a good account of the myriad challenges they face, from environmental impact, to animal welfare standards, and the growth of alternatives in the shape of plant-based milk substitutes or lab-grown meat.  What’s notable however is the determination of the industry’s key trade association to dismiss such concerns as passing fancies among young people it clearly considers too credulous or self-absorbed in their own echo chambers to know better.


What could have been done differently? The meat industry has a battle on its hands, and the sooner it rejects the comforting bromides pedalled by its trade association in favour of actual engagement the better.  Rather than disparaging vegans and vegetarians and finding reasons to undermine their choices, the report could have tried to identify ways for the meat industry to become relevant and acceptable to a generation and answer their concerns. Reassuring farmers and food producers that meat and dairy remain ‘cornerstones of British diets’ is papering over some long term structural changes in what and how we eat.  This report was a smokescreen, and one that seemed only to obscure the need for change from the very people that need to hear that message.



Salute the Admiral


The Admiral insurance group issued half year numbers this week, and for CEO Dan Stevens the sun and sangria was in evidence before his holiday had begun.  In a statement which owed more to TV sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo than the normally bloodless world of insurance, Stevens paid tribute to the success of his European operations in both Franglais and Italian.

“‘Zut alors! Nos opérations européennes sont rentables! Or probably more accurately, given that over half of our European customers are Italian – le nostre compagnie Europee sono in profitto! Moreover, the European insurers delivered overall profitability whilst growing the business by almost a fifth in a year.”

In a world where the accountants and lawyers torture the language in results statements and sandpaper most colour away, it was a refreshing change that hinted at a company culture that perhaps belies the insurance industry image.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]