A series of protests took place recently across the UK as activists call for the end of animal exploitation. Animal and climate justice movement Animal Rebellion is leading the charge. It uses mass civil disruption to urge for a shift to a plant-based food system.
A spokesperson from Animal Rebellion spoke to Plant Based News about its approach to fighting animal cruelty.
The 2021 National Animal Rights March
This weekend, thousands of people gathered in London to participate in the 2021 National Animal Rights March. Supporters marched past Unilever, Cargill, and the Marine Stewardship Council’s headquarters.
At least one thing that these organizations have in common is that they profit from the animal-based food industry, which is what Animal Rebellion is aiming to tackle.
“We’ve taken the approach to focus almost exclusively on farmed animals,” Animal Rebellion said about the movement’s goals. “The main reason is that there are so many more animals that are in terrible conditions and being exploited compared to other industries [like fashion and animal entertainment].”
In fact, around 75 billion land animals and trillions of fish are killed for food each year.
“We should tackle it. And if we can get that even a bit of the way there that would make a huge difference for the majority of animals alive today. It’s a really big scale issue. It’s also a unique opportunity because it ties in with climate and the debate surrounding animal testing on cosmetics too,” they explained.
Building the pressure
Animal Rebellion strives to complete nonviolent yet disruptive campaigns, which have accelerated as of late. Around a week ago, protesters slept over at a McDonald’s restaurant to demand a plant-based food system. It resulted in the arrest of 38 activists. Other ‘Rebels’, as they’re referred to, dyed the Buckingham Palace fountains blood red to protest the use of crown land for hunting and animal agriculture.
“We call it a Rebellion,” they said, adding that Extinction Rebellion, the sister organization to Animal Rebellion, developed the framework. It involves a short yet intense period of protests, as an alternative to one-off protests.
“One-off protests are really easy to ignore. It’s really disruptive for a day, police are strained for a day. But then it goes away and people forget and it moves on,” the spokesperson explained.
“But if you do it for a sustained and prolonged period then it gets increasingly disruptive and annoying and in your face. So it’s like a build in pressure.”
They added that the format allows people to take one or two weeks off to focus and have a ‘really impactful disruptive period’, before returning to their day-to-day lives. “So we concentrate the movement a little bit into a shorter period.”
A shared mission
It’s a massive undertaking, and one that would be difficult to accomplish without as many hands on deck as possible.
The protests have attracted a wide range of supporters – not just vegans. Animal Rebellion’s spokesperson explained that some activists are campaigning for the systemic shift away from animal agriculture while not following a plant-based diet themselves. This is the case for some non-vegan Extinction Rebellion activists, who still agree that updating the food system is ‘totally the right message’.
“They really support it. They agree that animal farming is killing the planet and they’re willing to get arrested for it. It’s amazing,” the spokesperson said, referring to actual recent events.
“If we said to them, ‘oh if you’re not 100 percent vegan you can’t join us’, we’d be missing out on these people who are really committed, really passionate and want to do great things,” they continued. “It’s helping us be bigger and broader than we would’ve been otherwise. And I think once people are in our spaces, which are animal product-free, it kind of helps them shift anyway.”