Vegetarian Society ad under attack from cancer charity

An advertisement for The Vegetarian Society which links cancer to eating red meat has been condemned by a breast cancer charity .

The ad shows close-ups of post-operative scars on cancer sufferers and carries the headline: “It’s much easier to cut out meat.”

Pamela Goldberg, director of the Breast Cancer Campaign which is one of the charities involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, says: “It is implying that if you get cancer it is your fault. Getting cancer is not like drinking and driving, where if you have an accident you are to blame.”

More than 30 people have so far complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the ad, which ran in national newspapers last week.

But Steve Connor, head of public affairs for the Vegetarian Society, is unapologetic. “You can’t put fluffy fruit and vegetables on a page. It would look like an ad for a greengrocer’s shop. How do people expect us to illustrate cancer?”

He defends the Society’s claims, which he says are backed by evidence from the World Cancer Research Fund.

But Chris Lamb, Meat & Livestock Commission consumer marketing manager, says: “It’s trying to frighten people.”

The ASA Council will adjudicate in the next fortnight on whether the ad, through Ogilvy One, should be banned.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here