Earthling Ed debunks UK advert claiming meat and dairy are natural sources of B12

Author: Molly Pickering

Read Time:   |  3rd February 2022

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Activist Earthling Ed has criticised the recent advert from the British farming group AHDB encouraging viewers to eat more meat and dairy to increase B12 intake


Vegan activist and Author, Ed Winters AKA Earthling Ed, has called out a UK advert claiming meat and dairy are natural sources of B12.

The advert is part of the We Eat Balanced campaign from the UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

In addition to ‘natural’ B12 source claims, the campaign has knocked veganism for its lack of ‘natural’ B12 sources present in the diet.

Moreover, AHDB says its campaign mission1 is to “present the facts and bust the myths around food and farming from the UK.”

Earthling Ed vs B12 claims

Following the We Eat Balanced campaign, Earthling Ed has taken to his YouTube channel to analyse the information presented by the AHDB.

The AHDB advert claims: “Meat and dairy naturally contain vitamin B12, which helps us get energy from food and stay healthy.”

In the YouTube video, Winters explains that B12 is produced by microbes and can be produced in the human gut.

However, the naturally produced B12 can’t be absorbed by our bodies, only excreted.

The activist continues to explain (and debunk) the theory that animals naturally produce and absorb B12.

In theory, animals could produce B12 naturally if they lived in an environment with soil that contained the right microbes or was contaminated with faeces.

Ed adds: “However, the majority of them [animals] are confined to factory farms where there is no soil.

“Meaning in practice most of the animals we farm for food are supplemented with … unnatural B12 supplements.”


But what about pasture-fed cattle?

Unlike us, cattle and sheep can produce and absorb B12 without an external supplement.

Winters highlights that these animals need a mineral called cobalt to naturally produce the vitamin.

Cobalt can be found in soil, however, cobalt deficient soil is becoming an increasing problem.

The cobalt deficient soil has led most farms to give supplements to the animals containing cobalt, injecting vitamin B122 is also an option.

Image source - Akaradech Pramoonsin Getty Images

Image source - Akaradech Pramoonsin Getty Images


Natural vs unnatural B12

Ed concludes by analysing the AHDB’s claim that ‘natural sources’ are better than unnatural sources.

Adding: “We have a choice of getting it [B12] from foods that involve exploiting and killing animals in a system that is one of the major drivers of the climate crisis.

“Or getting it from a supplement with no direct victims.”

We know which one we’d choose.

Do vegans need to take supplements? Find out what we think …




Written by

Molly Pickering

Molly is the Digital Executive and Podcast host at Anthem's Vegan Food & Living, she also works across other titles including Women's Running and Classic Pop to create affiliate content for the website. Starting out as a Digital Marketing Apprentice at Vegan Food & Living in 2021, within 14 months Molly was shortlisted for ‘Best Editorial Assistant’ at the BSME Talent Awards 2022 and won the BCS Special Recognition award for Digital Marketing Apprentice of the Year in 2022

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