MARKS & Spencer has been accused of pushing “animal farming propaganda” onto youngsters in their first ever children’s book.
Animal rights campaigners have hit out at the retail giant saying Farm to Foodhall, The Magic Ingredient “grossly misrepresents the realities for farm animals“.
The posh retailer has also been criticised for making “distasteful” jokes about farm animals and for not mentioning slaughterhouses.
M&S claims the short story offers to take young people “on a journey into the world of sustainable agriculture” for just £5.
Vegan activist Olivia Caraian has set up a petition calling for the company to publicly accept that their new “educational” book on farm sustainability is false.
The Change.org petition, set up two days ago, has already attracted support from over 400 signatures.
Explaining the petition, Olivia, from London, said: “M&S has launched its first ever children’s book entitled ‘Farm to Foodhall, The Magic Ingredient”‘
“They have hailed it as an ‘educational tool’ but that is clearly far from the case as it grossly misrepresents the realities for farm animals and positions animal produce as ‘sustainable’ when meat, dairy and eggs are amongst the most resource intensive foods we can buy and the huge harm animal agriculture is causing to the planet is already well documented.
“Farm animals are referred to as ‘The magic ingredient’ – making it sound like it is wonderful and exciting!
“On the front cover the cows are smiling and inside depicted taking showers. This book makes light of the harsh reality for farm animals.
“It paints a rosy picture of animals living out their lives in peace which is as far from the truth as it can be.
She continues: “Farm animal themed jokes are also thrown in – how distasteful.
“These exploited animals are definitely not laughing and especially when they get inside the slaughterhouse where they all end up.
“No mention of that. It could not be any more misleading. It is wrong to teach children lies.
“Why would any parent want to feed their child lies?
“We are asking M&S to make a statement correcting the record and accepting that the book they have printed is not educational.”
Olivia shared her petition to Facebook on Tuesday, causing dozens of users to comment in outrage.
Belinda Hart said: “Absolutely shameful.
“Certainly doing nothing for the animals except supporting their misery!”
Edmund Pendrous wrote: “It’s almost as though they have a vested interest in meat production.”
Sasha Young commented: “All of their vegan shoes and handbags and clothes and then they come up with this absolute bulls**t – wicked lies!
“I shall be in touch with them too.”
And Natasha Soliar replied: “Misrepresentation at its very best.”
Speaking today 37-year-old freelance writer Olivia said: “I was astonished at the manner in which farm animals are being depicted.
“This book paints a rosy picture of animals living out their lives in peace which is as far from the truth as it can be.
“While I’m not suggesting that young children be shown slaughterhouse footage, nor should a real life issue be conveyed as a fairy story and especially when victims are involved.
“Those who choose to feed animal produce to children should be honest about where it comes from and the processes involved.
“This book isn’t being truthful about the ethics or the sustainability issues associated with animal produce. It is being dishonest with children and I really don’t think that’s right.
“I really would have expected better from M&S and children most definitely deserve better than being sold such misinformation.”
Speaking today a spokesperson for The Vegan Society revealed how they believed the book implied that livestock consent to their own slaughter.
They said: “The cartoon images and descriptions idealise the treatment of cows, pigs, chickens and fish – implying that farmed animals live warm, happy and cosy lives and ultimately consent to being killed for our benefit.
“The reality is that even with the best available animal husbandry for farmed animals they lead unnatural, short, often brutal, lives and face an untimely and fear-filled death in a slaughterhouse so that humans can eat meat and dairy products.
“Male chicks and calves, the ‘waste product’ of farmed animals, meet this fate much sooner.
“The truth is that these products cannot exist without causing suffering and death to farmed animals and it is unacceptable to mislead children with this idealised view of animal agriculture.”