People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India recently sent a letter to Amul asking it to pull down an advertisement featuring Novak Djokovic’s 19th Grand Slam title win in the French Open tennis championship.
PETA India points out that the advertisement is “deceptive”, because Djokovic is plant-based, and therefore, does not consume dairy.
Djokovic has always been vocal about the benefits of a plant-based diet and had recently posted about the movie ‘The GameChangers’ on his Instagram with a caption “@gamechangersmovie is very inspiring to me personally and professionally.”
Amul, known for its topical cartoon ads, found itself in a similar controversy last year for its advertisement featuring Joaquin Phoenix after he bagged the Oscar for Best Actor for his movie Joker. Interestingly, Phoenix is an active animal rights advocate and a long-time vegan. He also gave a speech at the same award ceremony highlighting the reasons to denounce dairy as it is cruelty to cows and calves.
“Djokovic is a vegan who won his 19th Grand Slam, and now, PETA India slams Amul for appropriating his image in an ad for the very product he denounces,” says PETA India CEO and expert cattle veterinarian Dr Manilal Valliyate. “Last year, we had to inform Amul that Hollywood actor and star of Joker Joaquin Phoenix is vegan after the company used his likeness. That time, the joke was on Amul, as Joaquin had used his Oscar speech to condemn the common dairy industry practice of artificially inseminating a cow and stealing her baby.”
In the letter sent to Amul, Dr Valliyate wrote, “Today, many athletes and celebrities around the world, including tennis champion Venus Williams, Formula 1’s Lewis Hamilton, American football player Colin Kaepernick, and Olympic gold medallist and football player Alex Morgan, are eating vegan for improved health, concern for animals, or to help the environment. Indian footballer Sunil Chhetri has also been reported to eat vegan for improved recovery, digestion, and fitness. In fact, a documentary has been made on vegan athletes, called The Game Changers, which is available on Netflix. Even when athletes, stars, and consumers are not fully vegan, they are still increasingly opting for vegan foods.”
The letter also pointed out that a Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine study published in the journal Nutrients found that vegan athletes benefit from improvements in heart health, performance, and recovery.
A press statement released by PETA on the issue mentioned how brands such as Epigamia, Hangyo, The Brooklyn Creamery, and Baskin Robbins, have started selling plant-based options along with their regular dairy based products.
Dr Valliyate said: “Amul already produces foods that do not contain dairy, like peanut spread and a dark chocolate. Won’t you now discontinue the misleading ad featuring Novak Djokovic and consider making your company also known for delicious, healthful vegan milk?”
PETA India has also sought a meeting with Amul but has received no response.