The billboards – which went on display in London earlier this month - featured a picture of a cow with the slogan ‘They eat grass so you don’t have to’ and an image of a burger titled ‘Vegetarians, resistance is futile’.
GBK said the slogans had been created with ‘light-hearted intentions’ but decided to pull the campaign to avoid further offence after #gourmetmurderkitchen began trending on Twitter.
Consumer insight app OnePulse asked 1,500 UK adults - 12 per cent of which were vegetarian – their thoughts on the adverts.
Just over two thirds of vegetarians said they were discouraged from eating at GBK after seeing the adverts, while 12 per cent remained 'unsure'.
Nearly three-quarters found the slogans either ‘unneccessary’ ‘rude’ or ‘offensive’, though almost a third deemed them ‘lighthearted’ ‘clever’ or ‘funny’.
Fourteen per cent of meat-eaters polled said the adverts made them less likely to eat at GBK, 73 per cent were unaffected, while 13 per cent said they would be more likely to visit as a result.
One vegetarian responding to the survey described the campaign as ‘mindless’.
Another respondent said: “I think it is very silly seeing as [GBK] has good vegetarian and vegan options, they may lose customers if veggies/vegans think they only serve meat.”
Meat-eaters described the campaign as ‘designed to provoke a reaction’ and ‘offensive to vegetarians, funny to meat-eaters’.
“As a meat-eater I find it mildly amusing but surely [GBK] shouldn’t be trying to make the most amazing veggie burger then pushing out a lot of customers,” one respondent said.
Another added: “Vegetarianism and veganism is something quite a few people are passionate about. If they kick up enough of a storm it won’t look good for GBK.”
GBK offers several meat-free menu items including veggie burgers and falafel.
After pulling the adverts the company tweeted that it would ‘always’ welcome vegetarian customers.
The Vegan Society described the campaign as having 'backfired tremendously'.
BigHospitality has contacted GBK for further comment.