Go vegan sign

Veganuary has arrived and it’s more popular than ever. A record number of people have signed up to a plant-based diet for the first month of the year, says the charity. Reporter Morland Sanders revealed he was considering the diet himself in Dispatches (Channel 4, 2 January, 10pm). But with militant vegans “vandalising butchers, invading restaurants, and stealing animals from farms”, he was keen to delve into the “darker side” of the diet before committing.

In the past three years, counter-terrorism police have started to look at the threat of extreme vegan activists, Sanders revealed. One group, Save, regularly protested outside a Jewish kosher abattoir with Holocaust references and antisemitic graffiti. And Viva, one of Britain’s biggest vegan organisations, has “repeatedly targeted” Hogwood Pig Farm in Warwickshire for over two years. Hogwood owner Brian Hobill said he had spent more than £50k on additional security as a result.

Vegan blogger Cath Kendall defended breaking into property or protesting outside of farms as “just trying to protect the animals”. But vegan food writer Aine Carlin was keen to point out that militant vegans “are in the minority” and that “breaking the law, intimidating people like farmers [is] a line that we shouldn’t be crossing”.

Sanders was ultimately convinced to give the plant-based diet a go. “I know ultimately that most vegans don’t resort to direct action and it’s those people that I found most persuasive,” he said. He’s unlikely to be the only one.