'Anti-vegan' Christmas cake ad provokes outcry in Italy

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'Anti-vegan' Christmas cake ad provokes outcry in Italy
The humble panettone. Photo: Nicola/Flickr

Panettone is an Italian cake filled with raisins and sultanas, and is a typical Christmas treat. But the seemingly harmless dessert has led to backlash after some vegan activists claimed a famous cake-maker was mocking the plant-based diet.


It's all because of a TV advert created by Motta, a company which has been churning out pannetone since 1919 and intended to celebrate Christmas culinary traditions in its festive ad campaign.

The 30-second clip (below) shows the preparation of the typical cake, and as eggs are cracked and dough kneaded, the voiceover says:

"To make our panettone, we could have used tofu, papaya, seitan, seaweed, and cooked it for 30 seconds in the microwave... But no! We made it by following our recipe, the original one since 1919. Since always."

But some vegan activists took exception to the light-hearted ad - which ended with the word 'Scherzo!' which means 'joke' or 'I'm joking'.

One YouTube commenter, Chiara Maiutto, described the campaign as "ridiculous and shameful" and said that it was "incredibly low" to make fun of people who choose an alternative diet.

She added thatsoon companies would have to create vegan panettone because "customers determine the market".

Italian vegan food blogger Carmen Luciano dedicated a post to the advert, criticizing the "ignorance" of the panettone producers by pointing out that tofu and seitan (wheat gluten) would not be suitable ingredients for a cake anyway, and that it would be "absurd" to cook a cake made of such products in the microwave.

She also pointed out the bad conditions suffered by many hens and cows, and said that this was "nothing to laugh about".

"Dear Motta, you can respect tradition without offending those who make healthy and cruelty-free choices."

But plenty of people saw the funny side to the advert, calling its creators "geniuses" and "heroes".

"I'll be buying Motta panettone just for the anti-hipster marketing," said one Italian.
The advert for Panettone Motta is funny. There are too many people who don't understand what irony is and just create excuses to cause controversy.
According to the Italian Research Institute, Euripses, one percent of the Italian population in 2016 is a vegan. That's a rise of 0.4 percent on the previous year, and one of the fastest rates of change anywhere in the world.
But the country's growing vegan population have been on the receiving end of plenty of vitriol this year - from one of the country's top chefs announcing his desire to 'kill all vegans', to proposals to jail parents who feed their kids a vegan diet.
However, in Turin, the city's Five Star Movement mayor has announced a plan to turn the northern city into 'the world's first vegan city' by promoting a plant-based diet.
READ MORE: Why does Italy have a beef with vegans?

Why does Italy have a beef with vegans?
Photo: Julia Kilpatrick/Flickr


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