There’s much to fear in this world: war, terrorism, climate change, running into your coworkers at the gym. But recently, some butchers are saying that they’re afraid of something less expected, a group of people that frequently threatens their lives and livelihoods: angry vegans.
The Marlow Butchers shop in Kent, England was recently spray-painted by vandals who wrote “STOP KILLING ANIMALS” and “GO VEGAN” on its front windows and wall. The logo for the Animal Liberation Front was sprayed underneath those two imperative sentences. After the attack, the Marlow family thanked the local community for continuing to support them—and for helping them clean up—and those comments were just met with more vitriol.
“All sorted!! Ready for business from 6am tomorrow,” the shop posted on Facebook.
The support that we have received has been amazing [...] Tip of the day: hairspray removes spray paint from windows. We do not wish for this incident to cause any hatefulness to vegans. Please understand that this was probably the work of activists and is not a true reflection of vegans!”
That sounds innocuous enough, but it seems to have reminded even more angry herbivores that Marlow Butchers is a shop that exists. Earlier this week, the Marlows said that they had been threatened with everything from more vandalism to being bombed out of business, and that they’ve had to report all of the harassment to the police. (MUNCHIES has reached out to the Animal Liberation Front for comment but has not yet received a response.)
“The internet is the worst thing as not only are they threatening to physically destroy our business, but they are also trying to ruin our reputation online, too, by leaving negative reviews and comments,” Wayne Marlow told KentOnline. “They want to close us down and people are threatening to smash the windows or petrol bomb the store. We live in fear and we’re up worrying at night. They are terrorizing us.”
The Countryside Alliance, an organization that promotes and assists farmers and local businesses (in addition to pitching in on other aspects of rural life, like “the injustices of poor mobile phone signal in the countryside”) is also speaking up for the Marlows.
“Social media has been a catalyst for much of this campaigning, and if they find the right independent business it does bring a lot of pressure on family businesses,” Tim Bonner, the Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, told The Telegraph. “It's both personally threatening and people feel unsafe, they are not putting themselves forward on a controversial issue, they are just carrying on the business that their family has for generations.”
Although these attacks on butcher shops are rare, they do happen. Last August, the owners of The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley, California, were forced to negotiate with the animal activists who had spent four months staging graphic weekly protests outside the shop. (According to The Guardian, the displays “sometimes involved nearly nude protesters dripping in fake blood and wrapped in plastic, along with recordings of pigs screaming inside a slaughterhouse.”) To make the protests stop, the shop’s owners agreed to hang a 15-inch-by-15-inch sign in the front window that read “ATTENTION: Animals’ lives are their right. Killing them is violent and unjust, no matter how it’s done.” They were not delighted about it.
“To be threatened and forced to abide by their beliefs just makes me sad,” co-owner Monica Rocchino said. “Their tactics are really extremist. This is ethical extortion.”
Back in England, only time will tell if the Marlows will have to keep dealing with threats and online protests. But the owners do seem to be amused by the fact that, despite being furious activists, their new enemies aren’t very good vegans. “They used superglue and paint when they vandalised the store, both of which contain animal by-products,” Marlow said.