Marco Biagi, SNP member for Edinburgh Central, had earlier signed up to attend the publicity stunt to mark the start of World Vegan Month.
But when he learned June McGuinness – dubbed the UK’s sexiest vegan – would appear at Holyrood today dressed in a gown made entirely of lettuce leaves, he decided to withdraw his backing for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) event.
Along with Labour’s Cara Hilton, Ken Macintosh, Mary Fee, the Green MSP Alison Johnstone and SNP colleague Dennis Robertson, Mr Biagi was supposed to tuck into a free vegan pizza from La Favorita restaurant dished out by Ms McGuinness.
But when he learned of Ms McGuinness’s outfit, Mr Biagi tweeted he “didn’t realise Peta were into body image misogyny. Won’t now be participating”.
Later, the Green party said it had been unaware of the choice of costume when Ms Johnstone signed up to the event and would be complaining to Peta.
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Their objections were ridiculed by the Scottish Conservative MSP and former livestock farmer Alex Johnstone.
Mr Johnstone said: “Vegans all over Scotland will be outraged that their cause is being abused by this petty political spat. This hilarious flashpoint is now being dominated by do-gooders desperately trying to outflank each other in the sanctimonious stakes.
“With all the back-biting that goes on among the Left, it’s amazing so many of them are vegans.”
The event’s pre-publicity literature put out by Peta quoted Ms Hilton saying: “It’s important we are reminded that, like humans, animals are capable of pain and suffering and, like us, they wish to live in peace with the freedoms their own environment allows.”
According to Peta, choosing vegan snacks and meals is a “great way” to reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
Peta added: “Of course, each person who goes vegan saves more than 100 animals every year from daily suffering and a terrifying death.”
Last night, Peta’s senior programmes manager, Yvonne Taylor, reacted to Mr Biagi’s tweet saying that Ms McGuinness’s dress was in good taste.
Ms Taylor said: “Perhaps MSP Biagi doesn’t realise a local Peta supporter [Ms McGuinness] is choosing to wear a tasteful gown made entirely out of lettuce leaves as a way to highlight the many benefits of plant-based eating.
“The meat and dairy industries are among the leading causes of the most serious environmental problems from local to global levels, according to the United Nations, which has also said a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.
“In addition to being bad for the planet, meat and dairy products have been linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, which is why prominent figures – including the former US president Bill Clinton and former US vice-president Al Gore – have chosen to remove animal products from their diets.
“It’s a shame MSP Biagi, a vegan himself, has decided not to attend an event which seeks to shed light on these issues.”
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