This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
As the Met Police circle in on Extinction Rebellion (XR) with mass arrests and a Section 14 order banning all further assemblies, it's worth noting that the activists held their ground in London for eight consecutive days.
A multi-day protest attracting thousands of demonstrators – some of whom will camp out overnight – isn't easy to sustain. For one thing, nobody wants to protest on an empty stomach. So how do you feed all these people?
VICE went down to the main XR kitchen at Trafalgar Square last Wednesday to find out. Chippy, 28, was one of the cooks on shift. The chef runs Trewhitts, a vegan catering company down in Bristol and had come down to help feed the long line of hungry protesters. Kitchen volunteers ranged from chefs like Chippy, servers, veg choppers, a washing-up crew and those responsible for refuse and recycling (of course).
The majority of food was vegan stew donated by Hare Krishna, sent in insulated vats and transported across London by bike. Other recipes made onsite included vegan chilli, vegetable couscous, ‘scrap salad’ made out of leftovers and vegan potato salad.
This endless supply of stew and veg was supplemented by snacks ranging from vegan Chelsea buns donated by Infinity Foods, a Brighton-based bakery and food cooperative, vegan flapjack, home-dried apple slices brought by train from Falmouth, bags of hand-picked fruits and even some personally delivered wedding cake, all handed out amongst those holding the remaining sites.
The kitchen was being run with military precision and had even reached the point where they had to turn donations away and were able to start planning meals ahead. But soon news came that a kitchen on nearby Victoria Street was being dismantled by the police. Minutes later, the police came for the tents of Trafalgar Square and for the kitchen.
The volunteers salvaged as much as possible, but the main tent structure was seized and they were left clearing up the discarded food scrap by scrap. Chippy and the pop-up kitchen shared some recipes with us and closed shop for the day. But as the Extinction Rebellion launches legal action on the Met's ban, there's still a chance that it could spring up at a major road junction near you.