Lifestyle

Vegan activists: “We want businesses to face the truth about violence against animals”

Feet away from the butchers carving pork loins and beef shanks, the owners of a California meat shop have installed a peculiar sign in their window: “ATTENTION: Animals’ lives are their right. Killing them is violent and unjust, no matter how it’s done.”

The odd poster seeming to discourage customers from buying their meats is the result of a months-long dispute between the owners of the Local Butcher Shop – which sells “locally sourced, sustainably raised” meat – and animal rights activists who have staged more than a dozen loud and gruesome protests outside the family-owned business in Berkeley.

With the placement of the sign, written by the activist group Direct Action Everywhere, the vegan protesters have agreed to cease their weekly rallies outside the shop, which sometimes involved nearly nude protesters dripping in fake blood and wrapped in plastic, along with recordings of pigs screaming inside a slaughterhouse.

The 15in-by-15in sign began receiving international attention this week after the activists declared victory, following four months of protests and counter-protests among liberals in the northern California college city widely known for the 1960s free speech movement and anti-war hippies. The anti-meat activists have claimed that the sign is a groundbreaking win and are now promising to target other independent merchants with similar tactics that they hope will spread across the US.

The shop owners and their supporters have called it a form of blackmail and bullying.

“To be threatened and forced to abide by their beliefs just makes me sad,” said co-owner Monica Rocchino as she sat outside the shop on Wednesday afternoon while customers nearby munched on the sandwich of the day. “Their tactics are really extremist … This is ethical extortion.”

Rocchino and her husband, Aaron, opened the shop in 2011, promoting meats in line with a California food culture that values fresh and ethical produce.

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