Popular superheroes including Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are being used to promote meat products to children.
The characters will be featured on items like burgers and sausages, in what The Telegraph has branded a 'bid to counteract the rise of veganism'.
Image rights to the characters have been licensed from Warner Bros by food giant ABP to market its 'child-friendly' range which includes 56 percent meat sausages in flavors including 'pork, cheese and ketchup', as well as burgers cut into the shape of superheroes.
The launch comes as more people turn away from eating meat, with a recent survey showing there are up to 3.5 million vegans in the UK. In addition, it is estimated that there are 22 million 'flexitarians' in the nation.
In response, major retailers have been adding a variety of plant-based options to their shelves, with Waitrose becoming the UK's first supermarket to launch a dedicated vegan section last month.
Tesco and Sainsbury's are also catering to the growing demand, both creating vegan ranges, with the former launching a 20-product line across 600 of its stores earlier this year.
ABP UK Commercial Director Darren Jones says the line is an attempt to woo young people, and encourage them to eat processed animal products.
He said: "This is a first for the fresh and frozen meat categories and helps to create excitement for meat products in younger consumers."
Warner Bros Consumer Products General Manager Rachel Wakley added: "We are truly excited about delivering our DC characters to fans in this innovative, fun and extremely tasty way."
Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic (cancer-causing) by the World Health Organization [WHO] in 2015. According to WHO, consuming just 50g of processed meat a day (around one hotdog or two rashers of bacon) can raise the risk of getting bowel cancer by a staggering 18 percent over your life. Eating larger amounts increases the risk further.
Because of this, many health experts warn against consuming any processed meat: as far back as 2009 The World Cancer Research Fund [WCRF] warned parents to avoid feeding it to their children because it increases the risk of developing cancer.
Top plant-based physician Dr. Neal Barnard says: "Red and processed meats increase risk for heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses, according to a review published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. Researchers examined the correlation between disease risk and meat consumption in six cohort studies. Consumption of 100 grams of red meat per day increased the risk for stroke and for breast cancer, death from heart disease, colorectal cancer, and advanced prostate cancer."
Dr. Justine Butler, Senior Health Researcher and Writer for Viva!Health, told Plant Based News: "It speaks volumes that the meat industry is having to recruit superheroes in an effort to save a dying food market.
"Young people are increasingly rejecting meat and dairy for health, ethical and environmental reasons – and rightly so! There is a tragic irony in using Superman to sells foods we know are wreaking havoc on our planet in terms of climate change and deforestation.
"Having lost his own planet, Krypton, I am certain Superman would feel very protective about Earth and be a vegan. They should have asked Desperate Dan!"
Maria is the head of written content for Plant Based News. Also a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer. Her writing has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaChiorando and Instagram @mariachiorando.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself.
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