Thousands of animal rights and environment activists are planning to blockade Smithfield Market – the largest wholesale meat market in the UK – in the next wave of Extinction Rebellion climate protests.
A new group calling itself Animal Rebellion says it has almost 2,000 volunteers signed up to take part in a two-week blockade of the central London market from 7 October.
Dan Kidby, a spokesman for the group, said it hoped to have 10,000 people taking part in the blockade.
“Animal Rebellion’s message to the public, policymakers and the future citizen’s assembly is that we need to urgently end the industries of animal farming and fishing, and transition to a plant-based food system in order to avert climate breakdown, mass extinction and ensure justice for farmed animals.”
In April thousands of people joined Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests around the country, including blocking key sites across London for 10 days. They called on the government to tell the truth about the climate crisis and take urgent action to avoid ecological collapse.
XR has said the next wave of protests in October will be focused around Westminster.
Roger Hallam, one of XR’s co-founders, said: “October is the next big rebellion against the British government for the criminal inactivity on the climate emergency and ecological collapse.”
Animal Rebellion was founded in June this year when 18 of the UK’s leading animal justice organisations met and agreed to set up the new group. It aims to highlight the “catastrophic role” that it says animal agriculture and fishing industries play in the escalating global climate emergency.
Smithfield Market did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Scientists say avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce the environmental impact on the planet, reducing the land needed for farming by more than 75% globally.
Earlier this month an IPCC report said that intensive farming and razing forests for meat production was having a devastating environmental impact, and that moving to a plant-based diet would help tackle the climate crisis.
Animal Rebellion said activists were being recruited and trained in nonviolent direct action before the next protests. The group is planning to shut down the roads around Trafalgar Square in central London during a broader animal rights’ march on Saturday as a dry run.
Alex Lockwood, an academic, author, and spokesman for Animal Rebellion, said the group was aware that many people would find the protests challenging, but that the current food system was “unsustainable and destroying the planet”.
“We expect people to be angry that we are challenging their comfortable and ‘normal’ way of life around what they eat. But unfortunately, drastic times call for drastic measures if we are to have any hope of limiting the ravages of climate change. We’re sorry in advance for the disruption this causes.”
Although Animal Rebellion is a separate organisation, it has signed up to XR’s three demands: that the government tell the truth about the climate crisis, that the UK becomes zero carbon by 2025 and that a citizens’ assembly on climate justice is formed to decide policy.
This week six activists were arrested after the Brazilian embassy in London was daubed with paint in protest at the ongoing destruction of the Amazon rainforest. There have also been smaller protests in towns and cities across the UK in recent weeks, including in Cambridge, St Ives, Weymouth and Oxford.
Animal Rebellion activists to blockade UK’s biggest meat market – The Guardian