EUROPE's leading vegetarian campaigning organisation has today criticised a Kent primary school for raising a "pet' sheep being sent for slaughter. Viva! say Lydd Primary School have given children a false impression of how the majority of farmed animals are raised and killed. Viva! campaigns manager, Justin Kerswell, says: "It is understandable that pupils are distressed at Marcus being slaughtered. Although we believe people should know where their food has come from, allowing children to help raise him does not represent the truth about the meat they consume at home. "While they have been able to love and nurture him, this is not the reality for most sheep who experience great pain and suffering at the hands of the farming and meat industries.' Viva! claim many sheep face a struggle to survive, often on overgrazed, marginal land. When they are marketed, each animal is transported from market place to holding pen, from livestock dealer to exporter, an average of eight times for hundreds of miles, in inadequately ventilated transporters. Those who do not die of stress, thirst and heat stroke are then subjected to a horrific death when they reach the slaughterhouse. Mr Kerswell added: "It is unlikely the meat children consume " especially if purchased from a supermarket " will come from animals that have experienced life like Marcus. If people are upset at his death, they should question why they continue to eat any meat at all. 'there are other important lessons that the school should be taking into account. If they want children to learn how to help reduce their carbon footprint for example, they should be promoting reducing the amount of meat they eat and teaching them about healthy vegetarian diets.' Viva! will be writing to the school offering information for pupils about how to eat in a compassionate, healthy and environmentally friendly way. For more information about factory farming, or cutting down on the amount of meat you eat, visit www.viva.org.uk or call 0117 944 100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for your free Go Veggie Pack. For information on sheep farming see www.thebigcoverup.org.uk/wool ENDS For more information about this media release contact press officer Helen Rossiter by calling 0117 970 4637 or email email@example.com or campaigns manager Justin Kerswell by calling 0117 944 1000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For out of hours media enquires please call 0794 453 3021.