The programme, How to Steal Pigs and Influence People, is due to air tomorrow night (14 January) and will feature ‘vegan and ex-vegan influencers’ performing ‘farmyard heists’.
NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson described the programme as a disgrace and warned it could glamorise acts of criminality – such as the theft of pigs, burglary and the movement of pigs without the necessary licence – and encourage viewers to follow suit.
She called for Mitsubishi – whose advertising will be shown alongside the programme trailer as part of a sponsorship deal with Channel 4 – to show solidarity with the farming community and use any leverage it has with the channel to stop the programme from airing.
‘We have suffered enough’
“Our members have already suffered enough from the actions of activists that can bring despair to farming families who have done nothing wrong, while also posing health and welfare risks to the pigs – this feels like a further kick in the teeth,” said Wilson.
“Mitsubishi has customers across the farming industry and we are appealing to it to show some solidarity with the industry and use what leverage it has with Channel 4 to stop the programme being aired. We are also asking members to contact their local dealerships directly to make their feelings known.”
Similar calls have been made by other members of the industry, including the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS).
Spokesman Tony Goodger said: “The brand’s [Mitsubishi] association with this programme has the potential for significant reputational damage and we strongly urge them to withdraw their links to it.”
In response to the NPA’s concerns, head of legal at the show’s production company Dragonfly, Tom Calvert, confirmed the programme included incidents of vegan activists committing illegal acts, but claimed they weren’t glamorised, encouraged or condoned in any way.
“We believe that the programme gives a fair and balanced view of the ‘Meat the Victims’ event from both sides, as well as presenting a fair reflection of vegan activism in the UK,” Calvert added.
The pushback against How to Steal Pigs and Influence People comes less than a week after the backlash to another Channel 4 documentary, Apocalypse Cow: How Meat Kill the Planet, which called for the end of meat production in order to halt the destruction of the plant.
AIMS company secretary Norman Bagley was highly critical of the direction of the programme and its pro-vegan leanings, which he believed offered an unbalanced view on the subject of meat production in the UK.