Morrisons milk

Animal Rebellion’s campaign to ‘clear the supermarket shelves of milk this September’ was a damp squib.

The usual suspects – a handful of self-appointed, self-righteous, and I’d say self-indulgent activists who believe they have the right to halt supply of this staple food – did manage to make a nuisance of themselves briefly with a few wildcat sit-ins in the dairy aisles of supermarkets in London, Southampton, Birmingham and Manchester.

The fitter among them scaled trucks outside dairy facilities and distribution centres in the Midlands and south of England, brandishing banners, such as ‘Support farmers towards a plant-based future!’ No doubt farmers whose livelihoods were disrupted blessed them for this solicitous concern.

But if the intention was to jump-start a significant shift in our eating habits, it was thwarted by a population that stubbornly continued to drink its milk, spoon its yoghurt, spread its butter, and slice its cheese.

I have attended many protests; making your voice heard is a civil right. Realists acknowledge that in the main, no one much is listening, so you won’t get your way. That’s democracy. You have to persuade people through the coherence of your argument, not ear-bash and shame them into submission.

Sadly, the language being employed by Animal Rebellion is couched more in terms associated with terrorist threat than respectful, reasoned engagement in the important public discussion about how we best feed ourselves.

As with all fanatics, you wonder where AR’s actions will stop.

Animal Rebellion says its unignorable large-scale disruption to the dairy industry will continue until the UK government agrees to its demands.

It promises this wilful disruption will escalate and “go into full civil resistance mode” until the government eliminates livestock and rewilds the stock-less land.

There are many aspects of our food consumption that I personally see as disastrous for public health and the planet, but that doesn’t give me the right to super-glue myself to a supermarket gondola piled high with ultra-processed junk.

Like all the voices seeking to improve our food system, I must work to convince with reasoned argument and data. We can’t all throw tantrums, like Animal Rebellion.