15 August 2002
Viva! Rejects ASA Ruling as Perverse
The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld two complaints
against the Viva! leaflet "Bangers Make Your Heart Go
Pop!". The leaflet, which highlights the health dangers
of eating meat was judged by the ASA to be "alarmist"
and "liable to cause serious or widespread offence"
(due to a picture of a dead pig). They also judged our claims
about the risks associated with a meat-based diet to be "unsubstantiated".
In fact, Viva! submitted a wealth of substantiating evidence
to the ASA during the adjudication process and it seems that
the ASAs ruling on health risks was arrived at by ignoring
information from many of the worlds leading health advisory
bodies - upwards of 400 scientific references in total. Viva!
considers the ASAs rejection of evidence from (amongst
others) the World Health Organisation, the British Medical
Association and the American Dietetic Association - all of
which agree that vegetarians suffer considerably less from
all the degenerative diseases such as heart disease, strokes
and cancer - to be perverse and believes it shows the ASAs
incompetence to pass judgement on questions of science.
In its correspondence with Viva!, the ASA revealed a deep
ignorance of diet and nutrition. It referred to the American
Dietetic Association (probably the worlds most authoritative
dietary body) as an American dieticians organisation;
has omitted any reference in its finding to a scientific review
written by Dr David Ryde (Britains lowest prescribing
GP with the best medical outcomes); has omitted any reference
to a paper by Prof Colin T. Campbell (organiser of the China
study, the worlds largest epidemiological study into
diet and health and who entirely supports Viva!s position;
refers to the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation as a Society;
claims that Viva! failed to provide any scientific references
when 400 or more were provided in the form of scientific reviews,
a normal and accepted scientific process; and failed utterly
to comprehend the link between meat and saturated fat in the
Tony Wardle, Associate Director of Viva! states: "The
handling of this complaint has alternated between farce and
pantomime, with the ASA showing itself to have neither the
scientific competence nor the moral authority to pass judgement
on these vital questions. The scientific evidence is overwhelming
that meat eaters suffer more from all the degenerative diseases.
The ADA says so, the WHO says so and the BMA says so but the
ASA, who does not seem able even to grasp the fact that all
meat contains saturated fat, knows better than all of them.
"I believe that there are serious issues at stake here
and in particular freedom of speech and the placing of commercial
interests over and above science. The ASA has reached similar
judgements in the past with advertisements from other organisations
and despite the welter of information we have provided, it
has contorted itself in order to uphold those judgements.
In order to do so it has had to ignore or wilfully misinterpreted
the evidence we have provided. We intend to seek arbitration."