A climate changer protestor jetted in from the USA to join animal rights activists occupying London’s famous meat market, before admitting he could be seen as a hypocrite for having a high carbon footprint.
Vegan documentary maker James Hoot, 27, flew from his native Maryland to join Animal Rebellion demonstrators camping out at Smithfield Market in east London today.
He said: ‘I’m part of the movement, but I am also making a documentary series on veganism which I travelled to 15 countries to make.
‘I flew from the US, but I travel by train in Europe. I feel guilty about the pollution. It is hypocritical. But, there aren’t many alternatives to flying these days, and trains aren’t that clean either.’
Dozens pitched up tents overnight as they waited for traders to arrive in the early hours – only to stop them setting up their stalls by covering them with fruit and vegetables.
Smithfield is the biggest meat market in the UK and is usually open from 2am until 8am to supply London’s restaurants, cafes and hotels with the best cuts on offer.
Vegan documentary maker James Hoot (pictured), 27, flew from his native Maryland to join Animal Rebellion activists camping out at Smithfield meat market in east London today
As the sun rose in London this morning Animal Rebellion activists awoke from their tents to occupy fruit and veg stalls at Smithfield Meat Market
While Animal Rebellion activists demanded the meat market is turned into a ‘plant-based emporium’ their fellow protestors queued up for snacks at McDonald’s (pictured)
But the protest sparked fury among workers and meat-lovers alike, with many claiming protestors are ‘interfering with people’s livelihoods’.
There were further accusations of hypocrisy after their Extinction Rebellion colleagues were pictured queuing up for snacks at McDonald’s and Pret A Manger.
Smithfield meat traders were enraged after they were told by the City of London Police not to use their lorries’ horns in case they woke sleeping protestors.
Animal Rebellion activists, who were also joined by TV presenter and animal lover Chris Packham, want the iconic market to be turned into a ‘plant-based emporium’ and staged a ‘people’s assembly’ and a candlelit vigil to remember ‘all the animals that have been killed’ for meat production purposes.
Mr Hoot added: ‘The protest was a great success. It was about raising awareness, and showing people what this market could become. It’s the largest meat market in Europe and has been going for about 800 years.
‘They used to sell women here and it has evolved with society over time. This market could easily switch to selling fruit and vegetables, especially as people start plant-based diets.
‘The protest was about showing people what this market could easily become, even within just a few years.’
The documentary maker has planted ‘6,108’ trees to offset the emissions from his travels to make the documentary.
Former beef burger-lover Chris Bartley, of Lowestoft, Suffolk, took part in the protest after switching to a plant-based diet three years ago.
He said: ‘I feel awakened. I was a big meat eater before. I switched for my health and to stop harming animals. It’s not an environmental stance.
‘I have reservations about the climate protesters. I broadly agree with the message, but it’s not my position.’
Extinction Rebellion vegans have sparked fury by forcing out meat traders (pictured in white) from London’s famous Smithfield Market, setting up tents overnight and covering their stalls with fruit and veg
Some activists were seen dining on fruit and vegetables and drinking glasses of wine as regular Smithfield workers turned up
Dozens of protestors from ‘Animal Rebellion’, an extreme vegan branch of Extinction Rebellion, camped out overnight waiting for traders to arrive for work in the early hours – only to stop them setting up their stalls and covering them with fruit and veg
He added: ‘Some militants within the movement didn’t agree with our peaceful stance and wanted to stop the trade.
‘But, we made an agreement with the market that the protest would be peaceful, and it was.’
Mr Bartley works as a cab driver and now uses an electric taxi that he bought when London’s environmental laws kicked in.
Animal Rebellion activist Nadine, 39, from Wales, said: ‘Some protesters are quite radical. A few won’t eat avocados because they are flown in from far away.
‘Not many are that extreme though. I eat avocados and other foreign fruit and veg for a varied diet.
Martin Daubney MEP branded the plan to transform Smithfield into a ‘plant-based emporium’ as ‘abject nonsense’
Staging a ‘people’s assembly’ with speakers including TV presenter and animal lover Chris Packham (pictured), they demanded the Government oust all meat traders from the market and make it exclusively for fruit and veg sellers
‘It’s a drop in the ocean compared to the pollution from meat production and Asian countries. They should have their own protests.’
Ex-astronomer Nathan Roache, 50, of Birkenhead, Merseyside, travelled by bus to protest outside the City of London’s last-remaining wholesale market.
He said: ‘I would rather eat vegetables that have been flown long distances than eat animal products from the UK.
‘I still think it would be more environmentally friendly, but I do think there should be more efforts to grow organic produce here.’
Animal Rebellion protesters said the organisation is not part of Extinction Rebellion, which is currently causing chaos throughout London and other cities around the world, but the movements have been working together for three months and share common goals.
Among those outraged by the Smithfield protest was Martin Daubney MEP, who branded the plan to transform Smithfield into a ‘plant-based emporium’ as ‘abject nonsense’.
He tweeted: ‘Just been diverted around Smithfield Market which is about to be blockaded by #animalrebellion.
‘A numpty on the radio says they want to make it a ”plant-based emporium” this week. Sending solidarity to all workers in this iconic market.’
Dr Chris Newton asked what the police were doing to stop the sit-in, describing demonstrators as ‘rich, spoilt brats’.
Others joked it was a bad idea to anger meat traders equipped with meat cleavers in the early hours of the morning.
One person tweeted: ‘Winding up people with knives and meat cleavers at four in the morning is never a good idea.’
Morning breaks over Smithfield Market, one of London’s busiest Meat suppliers, as an Extinction Rebellion offshoot Animal Rebellion wake up after a night occupying the space which is usually open from 2am to supply London’s wholesale food industries
City of London police officers are pictured surveying the fruit and veg stalls set up by Animal Rebellion as meat traders look on
A sign that reads ‘Super tasty multi-award winning veggies’ advertising a plant-based catering service is pictured at Smithfield this morning
Another said: ‘Good luck with that! The market boys and girls won’t put up with your nonsense I doubt!’
Many others pointed out there is already a wholesale fruit, veg and flower market down the road at New Covent Garden Market.
But the fury continued elsewhere, with one person posting: ‘What bloody right has @ExtinctionR telling me or any of the hard working people at Smithfield Market what we can and cannot eat.
‘You’re interfering where I can travel, interfering with people’s day to day lives. You’ve no right whatsoever, so crawl back under your rocks.’
Despite the criticism, Animal Rebellion stood firm, staging a candlelit vigil overnight ‘in memory of all the animals who lost their lives’.
They tweeted: ‘As the Smithfield workers arrive, we want them to know that no-one should have to dismember animal bodies as part of an environment-ravaging system. We want to bring them with us on a journey of change.’
Some were seen dining on fruit and vegetables and drinking glasses of wine as regular Smithfield workers turned up.
Unable to access their stall plots they were pictured standing on the edges of the market staring at the mayhem.
Early morning traders at Smithfield Market in east London were met with messages such as: ‘Is it okay to eat animals’ daubed on the floor in chalk by Animal Rebellion activists
The protest sparked fury among workers and meat-lovers alike, as many claimed it is ‘interfering with people’s livelihoods’
The future is fruitilicious: Meat traders at Smithfield arrived at work this morning unable to set up their stalls as they were covered in fruit and vegetables
Signs are pictured on the entrance gates to Smithfield Market in east London demanding an end to animal farming and fishing. Protestors want the Government to turn Smithfield into a ‘plant-based emporium
Sound systems and camping equipment belonging to Animal Rebellion protestors are pictured inside Smithfield Market where they camped overnight to meet meat traders as they arrived for work today