Italian former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is ‘damaging’ the meat industry, according to the country’s butchers’ lobby.
The controversial politician has recently rescued and adopted five lambs destined for the slaughterhouse as part of a campaign with the Italian League in Defense of Animals and the Environment.
Campaign video footage shows Berlusconi cuddling, kissing and feeding the lambs with a baby's bottle, prompting anger from Assocarni – a butchers’ lobby.
A statement released by the group said: “It's incredible that even though he is a business person he is contributing to damaging the meat industry to try to get the votes of animal lovers.” The group went on to ask the media to boycott Berlusconi.
But thousands of people have watched the video of the 80 year old, who was expelled from the senate in 2013, after being convicted of tax fraud. In it he poses in front of a sign with a slogans reading: "Defend life, choose a vegetarian Easter.” A scrolling message says: "Be like him. He saved five lambs from the Easter slaughter.”
Despite a number of newspapers reporting that Berlusconi is vegetarian, he has never confirmed or denied it.
The video follows years of declining meat consumption in the country.