French butchers have urged the government to protect them against violence and intimidation from extreme vegan campaigners.
The French federation of butchers and caterers, which represents 18,000 butchers across the country, said that in recent months several shops across France have been sprayed with fake blood and vandalized.
They are calling on French interior minister Gérard Collomb to step in.
It comes several days after a rotisserie shop in Lille, northern France, had its window smashed and graffiti sprayed on the shop front that read “Stop specisme,” apparently referring to speciesism, a term used by some animal rights activists to mean that killing animals for meat is discrimination, similar to racism or sexism.
Several shops in Hauts-de-France were sprayed with fake blood and vandalized in April, and other incidents have been reported in the Occitane region, the federation said.
“We count on your services and on the support of the entire government so that the physical, verbal, and moral violence stops as soon as possible,” wrote Jean-François Guihard, president of the French federation of butchers and caterers, in a letter published on Facebook.
The French butchers were “deeply shocked by the food choices” that a small portion of society wants “to impose on the vast majority” of people who eat meat, Guihard wrote in the letter.
He added, “In the face of this escalation of violence, what will be the next stage?”
In the letter, Guihard also highlighted an incident in March, when a vegan activist posted a message on Facebook offering “zero sympathy” for a butcher who was murdered in a supermarket in Trèbe by an ISIS terrorist.
According to local reports, the activist wrote on Facebook, “So does it shock you that a murderer gets killed by a terrorist? Not me, I have zero compassion for him, there is justice in it.”
The activist, named in the media as vegan cheesemaker Myriam-Serge Jouglet, received a suspended prison sentence of seven months, which means she won’t go to prison unless she reoffends. She was charged with “condoning terrorism.”
In April, French members of parliament voted to ban producers of meat-substitute food from using words such as steak, bacon, or sausage in their products if they do not contain meat on the grounds that the labeling is “misleading” for consumers.
“It is important to combat false claims,” the politician who proposed the ban, Jean-Baptiste Moreau, wrote on Twitter after the rule was approved. “Our products must be designated correctly: the terms of #cheese or #steak will be reserved for products of animal origin.”
Manufacturers not complying with the ban could face a fine of 300,000 euros ($349,000).
The French butchers’ call for help comes two months after an incident in the UK in which a butchers shop was vandalized by activists. After posting an image of the vandalism online, the family received threats that their store would be petrol bombed, local newspaper Kent Online reported.
The meat industry in France recently made headlines for a different reason, when an animal rights group revealed videos showing brutal animal abuse in several of the country’s abattoirs, prompting a nationwide inspection.