We have all read the negative press in the past some vegan protesters attracted by their antics. Many argued that their actions gave veganism and animals rights activism a very bad name. My own cousin, sitting alone in her family home in Kent as a 16 year old back in the 70s, was traumatised when the house was attacked by animal rights activists. Windows were smashed and paint was daubed on the walls – all because her father, my uncle, carried out drugs tests on sheep. Yet what they failed to understand was that he was the world’s foremost expert on sheep, and the work that he carried out saved the lives of literally millions of animals. My cousin, undaunted, grew up to be a very successful veterinary surgeon, testament to her resolve.
But as veganism became more mainstream in this country, the myth that all vegans were hippy protesters has faded, as the vast majority of vegans are peace-loving citizens who would never think of any form of violent protest. Yes of course there are exceptions, but vegans on the whole just want to enjoy their lifestyle choice and the health benefits that brings.
And of course food retailers have latched on to the increase in popularity of veganism by launching a vast array of vegan products, widely available in their stores. Just last weekend, Sainsbury’s opened the UK’s first pop-up meat free butcher shop in East London for three days. In an attempt to introduce more people to plant-based meat, the shop was so successful that customers had to be limited in the number of items they could purchase.
However, as reported by Plant Based News, the shop was hounded by anti-vegan protesters, who held up a banner with a somewhat contradictory message – ” Veganism is violence to humans, animals and the planet”. Vegans took to the internet to express their confusion over the message expressed by the protesters, but accepted their right to peaceful protest.
But the actions of some anti-vegans have come in for sharp criticism. One in particular, the notorious YouTuber and carnivore activist Sv3rige, has been widely criticised for his stunts of eating raw meat at vegan events. At Soho Vegan Market he disgusted passersby and on-lookers by eating a raw dead squirrel, claiming that he was trying to save vegans from malnutrition. And at VegFestUK he subjected the public to his eating of a raw severed pigs head. But his antics had the opposite to his desired effect, with many meat-eating attendees at the events claiming that they were so disgusted by what they saw they vowed to either eat less meat or totally give up meat. Whilst no-one is claiming that these protests were violent, their purpose was to shock, and with many young children present the tactics were certainly distressing for many.
Coupled with this distress, it is well documented that eating raw meat in particular can be hazardous to health. Some squirrels carry their own form of mad cow disease, and deaths have been reported as a result of eating them. And so these protests are misguided at best, but also dangerous at worst.
As a vegan company, producing vegan cheese, we will always advocate the benefits of a plant-based diet, free from any harm to animals. Whilst we appreciate everyone’s right to hold their own views, and to peaceful protest, the worrying rise of anti-vegan protests is something that should be kept in check.