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The meat industry, as we know is cruel, disturbing and inhumane. There are some that liken it to a holocaust of domesticated animals that are bred purely to be slaughtered for food and various other by products. It would seem strange then, for members of the meat industry to point the fingers back at the vegan community, claiming violence, cruelty and intimidation – but that’s exactly what’s happening right now in France as butchers express concern for their own safety amidst ever increasing vegan activism.
You may have seen vegan activists on the street, with the likes of Joey Carbstrong or Earthling Ed, trying to educate the public about the cruelty of the meat industry and the benefits of veganism. These acts of activism are usually conducted in a peaceful manner where they engage in discussions and debates with the public. However, French butchers have reported increasingly extreme acts of vegan activism where they’re even experiencing “physical, verbal and moral” attacks on them and their businesses.
Joey Carbstrong at a protest
One such intimidation tactic occurred in Hauts-de-France where seven butchers and charcuteries were subject to graffiti attacks that mimicked the colour of blood. The town of Lille was also subject to similar attacks from activists, where a rotisserie, a fishmonger, a butcher and a restaurant had the words “No to speciesism” painted across it and had their windows smashed. Several such incidents also occurred in the Occitanie region in the past months. Some butchers and farmers claim to have even received death threats.
A vandalised shop Marlow Butchers
The butchers have expressed their concern about these attacks to the government and "live in fear" that their shops could be next. Jean-François Guihard, president of the French federation of butchers and caterers has sought after Gérard Collomb, the French Interior Minister to provide them with protection from these extreme attacks.
“We are counting on your services and on the support of the entire government to stop as swiftly possible such attacks.
Earlier in the year a vegan activist was found guilty and sentenced to a 7 month prison sentence for her stance against butchers. An attack in Trèbes on 23 March by an Islamic terrorist Radouane Lakdim resulted in four fatal casualties. Four people were killed by the gunman, one of which was a butcher by the name of Christian Medvès. After the horrific supermarket attack, a vegan cheesemaker posted on Facebook expressing her lack of sympathy for the death of Medvès.
"So does it shock you that a murderer gets killed by a terrorist? Not me, I have zero compassion for him, there is justice in it,"
The post was later removed following a complaint from The French Butcher's Federation. The woman was also found guilty of condoning terrorism for which she was sentenced to 7 months in prison.
Terrorist attack in Trèbes
Guihard is also claiming that vegan activists are attempting to destroy the French culture, which revolves heavily around cuisines that contain meat and dairy. As France is still only 3% vegan Guihard does not believe that the rest of French society should be so accommodating to a minority group.
“Butchers are shocked by a section of society that wishes to impose its way of life, not to mention its ideology, on the vast majority of meat-eating French people.”
French butchers are blaming the prominence of the vegan trend on social media for the violent attacks on them. They claim that people are being encouraged on social media to take actions against advocates of meat-eating such as themselves and that this is a cause of the violence.
“The 18,000 butchers of France are worried about media overexposure of the vegan way of life."
So when does vegan activism go too far? Is there a limit to what should be done to shift a society's eating habits towards a plant-based diet? It is very clear that some of these actions that are being taken against these butchers are illegal. It is also terrible for somebody's business to be vandalised and for the owners to feel physically threatened. But then who are the real victims here? Are these violent acts against propagators of animal slaughter justified by arguably saving the lives of sentient beings? What is more valuable, a sentient life or a person's business? The Holocaust and slavery were not fought against entirely by legal methods either. We also have to consider whether such activism is productive to begin with and how such acts are reflected upon by the vegan community globally. Is this activism or terrorism?
What are your thoughts? Comment below!