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Vegans at the gates

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‘2019 will be the year of the vegan’, predicted The Economist in December last year, claiming in a feature that the no-animal-products diet is set to become mainstream and citing McDonald’s McVegan burgers as proof.

thumbanilvegans at the gatesEven Swiss food giant Nestlé is shaping up against trend leaders Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio to cash in on millennials’ desire for plant based alternatives, claiming it sees its vegan business reaching $1 billion in 10 years. 

Nearly 2.25 million Australians are now vegetarian or nearly vegetarian, according to Roy Morgan research, making us the fastest growing vegan market behind the United Arab Emirates and China. But one group of Australian vegan activists isn’t prepared to make their case through market forces, they’re engaging directly with food chain producers and processors by trespassing on their property, inflicting damage and seizing animals.

These are coordinated attacks,” says Gallagher National Head of Food Production Stephen Elms. “It may be part of a global campaign and it’s definitely a national campaign targeting our food production chain where animal products are involved. Producers and processors should be increasing security around any access points to their properties.”

The extremist group Aussie Farms’s website features an interactive map displaying the exact locations of factory farms, abattoirs and ‘animal exploitation' facilities throughout Australia, and the group behind the site has refused to take the map down in spite of pleas by Minister of Agriculture David Littleproud that someone could get hurt during a property invasion.

Stephen Elms-1While the Privacy Commissioner is moving to force the website to take down the map by closing the loophole which exempted the group under privacy law, the damage has been done. Businesses in the target sectors are vulnerable to a plethora of risks, from biosecurity hazards to reputational damage, and extremist activists could strike at any time.

The agricultural industry peak body, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), has posted 5 guidelines on its AustralianFarmers website for dealing with a property invasion, as well as steps to take to protect yourself in advance.

Preventative actions include

  • restricting entry by keeping gates or property access locked
  • erecting signage that stipulates permission for entry must be obtained
  • adhering to best practices of animal handling and care
  • staying alert to movements on the property and sharing information with friends, neighbours and the police
  • monitoring news and online platforms to keep up to date with activist activity in your area.

The site also advises reading up on your legal rights in regard to trespassers.

“You should also check your insurance policy cover for business interruption and property damage,” Elms advises. “Cover such as temporary protection of assets may be triggered by the circumstances under some polices. At Gallagher we can offer an endorsement for civil unrest-type exposures that’s available under certain conditions as well. We urge you to talk to your broker if you know that you are or if you think you could be a target.”

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