Is it okay to eat animals? This is the simple question currently adorning a pavement in chalk adjacent to the Smithfield meat market. Its author is a member of what the mainstream press is calling “an extreme vegan offshoot” of the infamous Extinction Rebellion whose current protests in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Madrid, New York and many other cities elsewhere are the subject of headlines around the world.
The specialist meat market in the City which opens from 2 am to 8 am to cater to restaurants and the food trade was completely brought to a standstill yesterday. The market workers arrived at work to find that their market had become an impromptu overnight camping ground for the protesters catching a nap. Their stalls had been symbolically covered with fruit and veg. These were precisely the people labelled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “nose-ringed protestors camped in hemp-smelling bivouacs”. The very same people who had set up a candlelit vigil the previous night before in the memory of the animals who had been slaughtered for this trade.
Meat workers unable to work
The meat workers were outraged at what they perceived to be the City of London Police’s sympathetic treatment of the protesters. Their livelihood as being prejudiced and they felt they deserved more sympathy. This was a major spillover of the general protests in London casting at least two miles around Parliament in Central London including Trafalgar Square to be effectively shut off.
Though some of their fellow Extinction Rebellion colleges may have been nearby having a MacDonalds or a Pret a Manger breakfast, these animal lovers were telling anyone who would listen that Smithfields should be turned in to a plant-based emporium. Never mind that New Covent Garden is exactly that, and only just down the road. The meat trade found this attack on their livelihood to be unjustified. “Abject nonsense,” said Martin Daubney MEP.
Stop meat production to save the world
“Beef equals grief’ was the battle cry. The message is quite simple: to save the world, eating less meat is a good place to start, and there is plenty of scientific backing for this premise.
‘As the Smithfield workers arrive, we want them to know that no-one should have to dismember animal bodies as part of an environment-ravaging system. We want to bring them with us on a journey of change’ tweeted the organisers.
On the other side, some called the protesters “rich spoilt brats”. As one tweeter said: “you say resets, I say eco-fascists”.
Chris Packham the well known BBC presenter and animal lover was speaking there too as part of the line-up to demand that the meat traders be ejected.
An American vegan filmmaker James Hoot, 27, flew over from Maryland to offer solidarity with Animal Rebellion. “I’m part of the movement, but I am also making a documentary series on veganism which I travelled to 15 countries to make”.
Smithfield market is a well-known hangout for the city workers emerging from their gruelling all-night deal closing antics. A big fry up for breakfast downed with a pint of Guinness taking advantage of special licensing rules, before going home to sleep off the exhaustion. Perhaps not yesterday though.
The Animal Rebellion Summit, Vegfestuk London, will take place on 26th to 27th October at Olympia in London.