On October 10, British supermarket chain Tesco aired a commercial titled “Carl’s ‘All-Change’ Casserole” as part of its Food Love Stories series. The new commercial features a young girl who states, “Daddy, I don’t want to eat animals anymore” to which her father responds by preparing a casserole with vegan ingredients, including a plant-based sausage available at Tesco. “I love my meat but not as much as I love my little girl,” the father says. “That’s why we made some changes to our old favorites.” The 30-second advertisement concludes with the father stating that the plant-based casserole is “just as tasty as it used to be,” with the daughter adding, “better, actually.”
Minette Batters, President of meat group National Farmers Union (NFU), wrote a letter to Tesco shortly after the commercial first aired to outline the NFU “members’ significant concerns with the language used within the advert and how it has caused significant distress for British Farmers.” The NFU issued a statement in response to the commercial claiming that its messaging was harmful to the meat industry. “The NFU believes that messaging such as this is demonizing meat as a food group, which not only has negative connotations for farmers but also for the avocation of customers eating a healthy balanced diet,” the NFU’s statement reads. “The NFU is clear that food and nutrition must be looked at as a whole, rather than food groups in isolation. Meat as a food group [is] naturally rich in protein and [is] a good source of iron, zinc, and essential vitamins. There are certain parts of the population, especially teenage girls, who are currently not eating sufficient quantities of these micro-nutrients to fulfill their dietary requirements. We believe it is vital that children do not establish misleading views of food groups, which may later affect their health and diets.”
Tesco first launched its vegan Wicked Kitchen line—created by Derek Sarno, Tesco’s executive chef and Director of Plant-Based Innovation—in January 2018 and sold four million units of the 20-item line by August. In June 2019, Tesco announced its goal to increase its vegan ready-made-meals from the 32 it then offered under the Wicked Kitchen brand to 300 under its proprietary Plant Chef brand in an effort to serve the growing demand for vegan options while simultaneously reducing its climate impact.