A television advertisement promoting New Zealand Beef and Lamb has been withdrawn after an advertising watchdog received more than 80 complaints about it.

The Red Meat Feel Good advert, which featured butchers dancing in the street like Hare Krishna followers, prompted many complaints saying the advert was offensive because it mimicked Hare Krishna followers, who do not eat meat and regard the cow as a sacred animal, reported the NZ Press Association.

New Zealand Beef and Lamb told the Advertising Standards Complaints Board that it had purchased the advert from Australia. A similar complaint against the advert in Australia was not upheld.

“Aside from members of the public, the featured people are butchers, celebrating the nutritional benefits of red meat in a busy city street,” NZ Beef and Lamb was quoted by the New Zealand Press Association as saying.

“It does not follow, as the complainants appear to believe, that promoting meat in a celebratory way is an attack on or insult to those who do not eat meat and consider the cow to be sacred.”

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Despite the meat group’s protests, the advertising watchdog said it had upheld complaints against the advertisement.

The board “was unanimously of the view that the advertisement had in fact caused serious offence on the grounds of religious and ethical belief… in the board’s view it was not saved by humour as allowed for.”

A board spokesman said the advertisement had been taken off air and replaced by a new commercial.