Berlusconi “saves” Easter lambs, angering Italy’s meat lobby

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has infuriated Italy’s meat industry by joining a vegetarian campaign and “adopting” five lambs that would have been butchered for Easter.

MILAN, ITALY (RECENT) LEGA ITALIANA PER LA DIFESA DEGLI ANIMALI E DELL’ AMBIENTE (LEIDAA) – A video by the Italian League in Defence of Animals and the Environment, showing Silvio Berlusconi cuddling, kissing and feeding lambs with a baby’s bottle, has caused quite a stir on social media.

The 80-year-old four-times prime minister was filmed in his parkland estate in front of a sign saying “Defend life, choose a vegetarian Easter”, while a scrolling message urged viewers to “Be like him. He saved five lambs from the Easter slaughter.”

Animal rights activist and member of parliament for Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, Michela Brambilla, was also seen in the video along with Berlusconi’s girlfriend Francesca Pascale.

Berlusconi was expelled from the Senate in 2013 following a conviction for tax fraud, but his Forza Italia party is still the third or fourth most popular in Italy with around 12 percent of the vote, according to opinion polls.

Italians traditionally eat lamb or goat on Easter Sunday but consumption has declined sharply over the last five years due to an economic slump and growing success of vegetarian campaigns.

Italy’s butchers’ lobby Assocarni attacked the billionaire media tycoon and called on advertisers to boycott his television channels and publications.