Two weeks’ planned protest by Animal Rebellion may have been paused due to the death of the Queen, but the activist group intends to plough ahead with two weeks of disruption at the earliest opportunity.
AR launched its fortnight of action in aid of a plant-based future on September 4 but called off the protest on Thursday last week after news of the death of the 96-year-old monarch.
Formed with the aim of compelling the British government to look after “humans, non-human animals and the planet” by creating a plant-based food system, the group had been targeting depots outside the capital run by the dairy giants Arla and Müller. It successfully immobilised as many as 50 delivery trucks at Arla’s depot in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, leading to supermarkets in parts of north London running out of milk. While meat gets a lot of the press, greenhouse gas emissions associated with dairy production are a key contributor to agriculture’s footprint. Research in 2021 found that the world’s 20 biggest dairy firms together pump out more harmful emissions every year than the UK, Germany or France.
AR also targeted an Arla depot in Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire, and three Müller sites in Droitwich, Worcestershire; Stonehouse, Gloucestershire; and Bridgwater, Somerset. More than 20 people were arrested for drilling holes in tyres. More people were arrested in London after protests timed to coincide with the first speech of Liz Truss as Conservative Party leader. Activists glued themselves to a road outside the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster, where the winner of the Tory leadership contest was being announced, and chanted: “Protect our planet, protect our future.” They targeted Truss again later in the week ahead of her first PMQs.
Dan Kidby, who co-founded the animal and climate justice group in 2019, said: “We paused our non-violent campaign out of respect for the British people following the news of Queen Elizabeth’s death, but the disruption we caused is still being felt across the dairy supply chain.” He added: “We fully stand by our actions and are demanding government action to transition to a plant-based food system which is the key solution to the climate crisis.”
The group wants to change agriculture in Britain for the greener, by encouraging farmers to grow crops for human consumption, rather than farming cattle and other livestock to produce meat and dairy. Freed-up land could then be rewilded and replanted with trees to help prevent further damage to wildlife and ecosystems and to store more carbon.
Explaining its decision to pause its action, AR said on its website “acknowledges that this is a time of intense emotion for many millions across the UK and the globe. It is important to recognise the grief associated with death … Grief is something felt every single day across the global south as communities are torn apart by climate change.”