A new group calling for the government to spearhead a shift to vegan diets is preparing a campaign of mass civil disobedience.
The group, Animal Rebellion, is joining forces with Extinction Rebellion to stage sit-ins and block roads in London for two weeks in October.
Members say that as well as supporting Extinction Rebellion’s demands, they want ministers to end subsidies for producing meat and dairy, and to encourage farmers to switch to growing crops to drastically cut the UK’s emissions of damaging greenhouse gases.
They also want the government to support the public in adopting plant-based diets to help the target of reaching a zero-carbon-producing society.
Animal Rebellion, which has local groups in places including Manchester and Bristol, says it already has thousands of supporters, and expects at least 10,000 volunteers will join its protests beginning on 7 October in London.
Organisers have not yet revealed the exact place but, like Extinction Rebellion, are preparing “civil disobedience” and disruption on the streets to draw attention to how production of meat and dairy are “contributing to the climate emergency”.
Harvard concluded that if the land in Britain currently used to grow feed for livestock was used instead for grains, beans, fruit, nuts and vegetables for humans, it would be the equivalent of saving nine years of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In addition, the food grown could feed everyone with no need for imports, the study said.
Alex Lockwood, an Animal Rebellion organiser and spokesman, told The Independent: “The destructive nature of the animal agriculture and fishing industries are contributing hugely to the climate emergency – they are a leading cause of carbon emissions.”
One estimate puts the industries at 51 per cent of global CO2 emissions annually, but more conservative estimates say they account for 14-20 per cent, Mr Lockwood said.
Animal Rebellion is calling on the government to take initiatives such as working with the Vegan Society on a campaign the society is running called Grow Green.
“This isn’t scaremongering by animal activists, this is respected organisations like the UN, the IPCC and the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission of the RSA saying we must switch to plant-based diets,” Mr Lockwood added.
He said some members, but not all, were prepared to be arrested, and they were “deeply sorry” for any inconvenience to the public.
“Like Extinction Rebellion, we are collectively of the view that, given the failure of world leaders to date, disruption is now necessary to get anything like commensurate change. If there was a better, less disruptive way of doing this we would do that instead.”