This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
A UK farmer is claiming that a large group of vegans stormed her pig farm and, in their attempt to bring attention to the plight of the animals, accidentally caused the death of two piglets.
The group of vegans were taking part in a campaign called "Meat the Victims," which, as one activists says in a video of the event, “is designed to show the public the victims of their food choices.” A group of vegan activists about 200 strong made their way to Sandilands Farm in Lincolnshire, UK, to protest the pig farm at the start of the month. A substantial chunk of the group, about 100 people, staged an eight-hour sit-in at the farm’s farrowing house—a building filled with the small crates sows are kept in during breeding.
Farm owner Sylvia Hook said the activists attempted to cuddle the pigs and piglets, which stressed the animals out, and caused the death of two of her piglets.
“About 50 of them all piled into a farrowing house, immediately the sows are jumping up and down,” said Hook in an interview with the Lincolnshire Live. “It's caused the death of two young piglets through being squashed and two other piglets have had to be taken away to get up and running again.”
Speaking to a BBC television crew, Hook doubled down on her claims, saying she was “scared” and “incredibly intimidated.” Hook said the vegans interfered with the pigs’ feeding schedule, which further stressed out the animals.
"They were picking piglets up, cuddling them—there was a lot of screaming going on,” Hook told the BBC. “Piglets don’t want to be cuddled. Then unfortunately, they were putting the piglets back in the wrong pens.”
She added she believes the piglet was killed by a stressed out sow standing on it after a vegan may have accidentally put it back in the wrong pen.
The activists strongly dispute the claim they caused the piglet deaths, instead saying the piglet was already sick when they got there. Videos released by the activists show the vegans crammed inside the sheds and tense interactions between the activists and the farmers. In a video of the event one activist, shortly before going onto the farm, seems to acknowledge their actions will stress out the animals, but that the positives of what they were doing would outweigh the negatives.
“Some may say that what we are doing today will frighten or scare the animals in the farm but let me make this clear, this is nothing in comparison to what these animals face and suffer throughout their lives on this planet.”
Hook went on to say that it was “ridiculous” these people called themselves “animal rights activists” after seeing the stress caused. She said she was surprised her farm was targeted, as it’s a family farm that follows safety and health regulations, and is Red Tractor certified. Activists told the Lincolnshire Live there was no reason they targeted the farm in particular. Instead they wanted to target a “typical farm” to highlight the industry wide use of farrowing crates.
In an online post, one of the lead activists said farms are “prisons for the innocent” and are essentially “death factories.” In it, Ed Winters—who goes by the name Earthling Ed—takes umbrage with Hook saying the vegans have “no love of animals, they don’t understand.”
In response he said, “you cannot love animals and kill them.”
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.