(Updated November 15, 2019) Smithfield — an 800-year-old meat market in Farringdon, London — recently received a vegan makeover.
Activists from Animal Rebellion (AR) peacefully occupied the market in October. They set up fruit, veg, and other plant-based food stalls inside. Animal Rebellion is an offshoot of the environmental pressure group Extinction Rebellion (XR).
AR is on a mission to convince governments to end “destructive” farming industries. Instead, it wants them to help towards a transition to a sustainable plant-based food system.
The group says, “We recognize that a plant-based food system is the only system that can minimize the risk of climate breakdown, halt mass extinction, and avert social collapse.”
The meat industry is responsible for a multitude of environmental problems, including high greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. Last year, the United Nations revealed that tackling meat consumption is the world’s most urgent problem. It stated that there is no way to reach Paris climate objectives without a largescale reduction in animal agriculture.
AR’s plant-based food stalls were a vision of what Smithfield could look like in 2025 — if there is a shift in the food system.
THE FUTURE IS HERE!
— Animal Rebellion (@RebelsAnimal) October 7, 2019
Smithfield: the Fruit and Veg Market?
“Cast your minds forward, six years from now, October 27th, 2025, when Smithfields will be reopened as a vegan market, selling fruits and vegetables,” George Monbiot — Guardian writer and environmentalist — said in a speech to crowds of activists.
He was eager to point out that there will be a “just transition” for those who currently rely on animal agriculture as a form of income.
“They will have new jobs,” he stated. “New sources of income and employment, introducing a plant-based diet … Smithfield is now famous for meat, it will be famous for fruit and vegetables.”
It seems at least one supplier from the meat market listened. In November, it was announced that Moving Mountains will supply P.J. Martinelli — a meat specialist of 30 years — with vegan meat for the first time ever.
Simeon Van Der Molen — the founder of Moving Mountains — said in a statement, “this partnership with P.J. Martinelli at Smithfield Market is a momentous step for the plant-based movement and signifies how the tides are changing in the industry.”
AR also held a “vigil” at Billingsgate Fish Market in Poplar in October. It Tweeted, “so many here, here for the fishes, for the thousands in the market, dead or dying, for the trillions killed this year.”
XR has also held protests across the capital. Stanley Johnson — the father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson — attended an XR panel in Trafalgar Square, where he praised the activist group’s mission.
He said, “What really influences politicians is the sense that out there in the streets, out there in the post offices, out there in the great wide world, there is a great mass of people who approve of what they want.”