Vegan activists protest at ethical supermarket in Brighton

The protest at Hisbe, Brighton (Photograph: DxE Brighton)
The protest at Hisbe, Brighton (Photograph: DxE Brighton)

Animal rights activists held a demonstration at ethical supermarket Hisbe in Brighton on Sunday (January 13).

Around 30 activists from Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) entered the shop on York Place, holding signs which read: 'humane murder is a lie' and 'local doesn't mean ethical'.

The protest at Hisbe, Brighton (Photograph: DxE Brighton)

The protest at Hisbe, Brighton (Photograph: DxE Brighton)

They were protesting against the fact Hisbe sells meat, dairy and eggs.

On its website, Hisbe says: "Vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, salad-dodger, whatevs – we don’t judge. But our meat is always local, high-welfare, with no growth hormones, and not dyed or bulked out with water, additives or bits of other animals. It looks, smells and tastes how it’s supposed to. It’s meat."

One of the activists said: "'Free range' and 'local' are labels that make people feel more comfortable about animal exploitation and murder. But there is nothing ethical about farming and killing animals, there's no such thing as 'happy' meat, milk or eggs.

"Consumers control demand, we have responsibility as individuals. We have the responsibility to be conscious consumers and hold our businesses accountable. Regardless of how you do it using animals in order to profit from their bodies is wrong. Their lives are their own. Animals are not products and using them for our greed and appetite is unethical and irresponsible."

The protest at Hisbe, Brighton (Photograph: DxE Brighton)

The protest at Hisbe, Brighton (Photograph: DxE Brighton)

A Hisbe spokesperson said "We had a second visit from some local vegan activists at the weekend. This time we allowed them into the store as they assured us the demo would be short and peaceful. However we won’t be doing that again because they were shouting through megaphones indoors - they were very loud and obstructive and some of our staff and customers felt intimidated.

"Anyway, the events raise an interesting clash in ideologies...

"On one hand you have HISBE Food, a social enterprise committed to enabling mainstream supermarket shoppers to buy good quality, real food, locally sourced and seasonal. This includes produce that supports high animal welfare, natural farming, reduced waste and plastic, paying what’s fair and doing business beyond profits. We passionately oppose factory farming and encourage people to consume less, better quality meat. We are committed to ethics-led sourcing and, to us, this means we sell local and high-welfare meat, eggs and dairy products.

"On the other hand you have these vegan activists, who think that it is morally wrong for HISBE to sell animal products, full stop.

"To the vegan activists, slaughtering an animal for food is the same as murdering a person. It’s irrelevant to them how the animal lived its life if that life is ended prematurely (we thoroughly disagree with this because of the vast difference between the living conditions on factory farms vs small high-welfare farms like ours). The vegan activists believe animals are victims of mass oppression and that veganism is more than a personal dietary choice; it’s a liberation movement tackling a social injustice. They want to free all animals and they hold these demos to educate the public to go vegan.

"And so you have two very different sets of food ethics!

"We believe everyone has the right to demonstrate, although we do get frustrated that the vegan activists misrepresent HISBE. Despite repeated clarification from us they continue to make statements about us, our business, our sourcing and how we describe our animal products that are completely false.

"No, we don’t agree with these vegan activists’ opinions or their methods, but we do support the choices of our many vegan friends and customers. HISBE serves people of every different food persuasion and we believe in everyone’s right to choose. We invite everyone to consider different ideologies, talk about the food issues that matter to you and make conscious choices about what you eat.

"Finally, thank you to all our customers who know what we do and have supported us through these protests, meat-eaters, veggies and vegans alike."