Posts Tagged ‘vegans’

London 14 May 2016

Friday, May 14th, 2021

Class War at UVW protest against Topshop sacking and suspensions of cleaners

May 14 has always been a special day for me, and five years ago I celebrated my birthday on the streets of London photographing various protests around town before going home to a more private event. The day’s work ended for me on Oxford St, where the United Voices of the World union were protesting against Philip Green’s Topshop after members who work as cleaners were suspended and one sacked for their union activities – demanding the London Living Wage. The protest was supported by other groups including Class War, cleaners from the CAIWU and other trade unionists including Ian Hodson, General Secretary of the BWAFU and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. Although Philip Green makes millions, the cleaners were on the national minimum of £6.70 per hour, nothing like a enough to live on in London.

Police were out in force to prevent the protesters entering the Topshop store and there was a noisy protest on the pavement for some time facing the line of police before Class War led the protesters into the centre of the road to block Oxford St.

Police tried to clear the road, and began threatening arrests and the protesters decided to march west down Oxford St, briefly blocking Oxford Circus

before stopping to protest outside John Lewis, where the UVW have been campaigning for several years to get the cleaners recognised as a part of the workforce with similar respect and conditions of service to other John Lewis staff.

There were heated arguments as police manhandled some of the protesters there, but things calmed down a little and the campaigners moved on for a final protest outside the Marble Arch Topshop.

Things seemed to be coming to an end and I was late for dinner so I hurried away.

My day’s work had begun in Holloway, where Islington Hands Off Our Public Services, Islington Kill the Housing Bill and the Reclaim Justice Network were holding a rally and march to HMP Holloway, demanding that when the prison closed the site be used for much-needed social housing and community facilities, rather than for expensive private flats. Local MP and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn rode up on his bike to speak at the rally.

I moved on from the rally at the end of the march outside Holloway Prison to Oxford St, where the Revolutionary Communist Group and friends were reminding shoppers of the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people, and opposing attempts to criminalise and censor the anti-Zionist boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The rolling picket urged shoppers to boycott stores which support and fund Israel, including Marks and Spencer, and stopped for brief speeches in front of some of them for short speeches.

A small group of militant Zionists had come along to wave Israeli flags and shout insults at them. The protesters (who included several Jews and some Palestinians) made clear that this was not an anti-Semitic protest but against some actions of the Israeli government and it took place the day before Nabka Day, the ‘day of the catastrophe’, remembering when roughly 80% of the Palestinian population were forced to leave their homes between December 1947 and January 1949, and later prevented by Israeli law from returning to their homes, or claiming their property. This year the attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem have largely been precipitated by the continuing attempts by Jewish settlers to displace the Palestinian population of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. Founded in 1865, the area became home to Jerusalem’s Muslim elite, but in 1948 became home to Palestinian refugees from Jerusalem.

Vegans had come to Trafalgar Square holding laptops and tablets and wearing masks to show the film ‘Earthlings’ which includes scenes of horrific cruelty to animals and calling for an end to the farming and eating of animals. Some also pointed out the contribution that becoming vegan could make towards solving the climate crisis as Vegan dietts use less water, land and grain and produce less CO2.

Also on the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square were a small group of protesters standing in front of the National Gallery who held posters calling for human rights, fair treatment and support for refugees. Some held a banner with the message ‘free movement for People Not Weapons’.

More about all these protests on My London Diary:

Topshop protest after cleaners sacked
Refugees Welcome say protesters
Vegan Earthlings masked video protest
68th Anniversary Nabka Day
Reclaim Holloway

Two Parades

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

I can’t now remember why I was walking up Whitehall on a Saturday morning in July, but I think I must have gone to photograph a protest that had been advertised to take place in Parliament Square that didn’t happen. That would not be too unusual, as it is very easy to create an event on Facebook, but actually getting people to turn up is often harder. And although quite a few people may click to say they are interested or going they may well not actually turn up.

Fortunately in London though some things may not happen, there are others that take place which I’ve not known about beforehand, and if I have any interest in them I will stop and take a few pictures.

Fourteen years earlier, I’d photographed a Belgian commemoration of victims of the Second World War at the Cenotaph, with some veterans and their widows in attendance. Apparently this annual celebration had started before that war, following the death of King Albert I of Belgium, a keen climber who died after falling down a Belgian mountain in February 1934. Albert’s uncle, King George V, decided to grant them the annual ceremony to honour him and the Belgian contribution to the Great War.

Judging from my photographs the event back in 2005 was very much less formal than this year’s more military event, where barriers kept me off the road and behind the curious tourists lining them. This year I hardly stopped to take pictures as I was on my way along the street, a little annoyed that I couldn’t catch a bus instead of walking to Leicester Square.

The parade from Leicester Square that I was hurrying to, the The Vegan For Life Parade, was described as a fun parade through central London to promote a vegan lifestyle. While not wishing to be anti-vegan – and I certainly think eating less meat and other animal products is a good thing – fun is not a word I associate with vegans, who usually seem to be in hectoring mode, so a ‘fun’ protest seemed a good idea, and probably more effective at converting people to the cause.

And while there was just a little of that self-righteous vegan evangelistic zeal many of the posters and placards were rather more humourous and less confrontational than at other vegan events I’ve photographed.

I couldn’t stay for the march, which started late, as I wanted to go back to Extinction Rebellion’s East London Uprising where an event was about to start on Hackney Fields.

Belgians commemorate Second World War victims (scroll down the page)
Belgian Army Cenotaph Parade

Vegan for Life Parade


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Dairy Scary?

Sunday, November 10th, 2019

I don’t know how much of our milk and cheese actually comes from industrial dairy farms like that shown in the picture above.

According to the RSPCA only around 8% of UK milk comes from cows “housed all year round regardless of milk yield, time of calving and so on”. The RSPCA has a lengthy document for farmers setting the RSPCA Welfare Standards for Dairy Cattle, and a shorter and less technical  The welfare of dairy cows information sheet – February 2017 (PDF 654KB) which very much reflects their concern for animal welfare.

Of course these documents are only advisory and again I’m not sure what proportion of our milk and diary products come from farms which follow them, though I suspect it is fairly high. It is very much in farmer’s interests to look after thier animals, and those farmers that I have know personally are very much concerned and involved with them.

I’d like to see welfare standards such as this being legally enforced rather than simply advisory. But to label the whole dairy industry as ‘Scary Dairy’ seems to me misleading. Some of the claims that Viva! and other vegans make simply make no sense; no cow produces enough calves to need the 14,000 pints of milk the average dairy cow provides each year, and there are certainly no calves starving from lack of milk.

Of course farm animals are slaughtered at some point. It is the nature of the beast; farmers breed them only for economic reasons, not to gratify animal lovers (except for those very few kept as pets. They only exist because they produce food and other animal products that farmers can sell. Of course we should have strict laws that eliminate unnecessary suffering governing how animals are killed and ensure that they are enforced.

I remain irredeemably ‘speciesist’. We are in so many respects different from all other species although of course we have much in common, including a high proportion of our DNA, having evolved over thousands and millions of years from other species (which have also evolved, but differently.)

I did my best to photograph the Viva! protest and to caption the images that I filed to represent their views, reporting as objectively as I could. Mostly I chose to photograph things that I view positively, but while I support better animal welfare I think that the approach taken in this campaign is highly emotional and both dishonest and disingenuous.

  There are a few more pictures at Viva! protest Coca-Cola Dairy Farm.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Close all Slaughterhouses?

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

I have nothing against anyone who wishes to be vegan. Although I’m not myself vegan, I think it laudable that some people have chosen to live in this way. For all of us, cutting down the amount of meat we eat is a good thing, probably for ourselves and certainly for the planet. The same is true for diary products, though I think to a lesser extent.

But I can’t agree that we should stop all animal farming and would hate to see the end this would mean to seeing animals grazing in fields, many of which would be unsuitable for growing crops. Grazing animals have an important role in keeping soil healthy, cutting down the need for chemical fertilisers and contributing to biodiversity.

Back in the day successful farmers cared for the animals they farmed and it was in everyone’s interest to treat them well. I’d certainly call for the end to highly intensive farming that now produces meat more cheaply but with great cruelty, and we try to avoid buying meat produced through animal cruelty. But I think it wrong to suggest that all farming of animals is cruel.

Much of the campaigning in the posters and speeches at events such as this is I think misleading, playing on emotional responses to pictures of cute animals. Much also seems to me to fail to understand the basics of the natural world, where many species do prey on other species; what we do in farming animals is a more organised and arguably less cruel extension of this. Foxes may look cuddly in photographs and videos of them playing, but put them among the chickens and you get a bloodbath, nature indeed red in tooth and claw (but of course we shouldn’t make a sport out of hunting foxes.)

The premise of many protesters is that there is no such thing as humane slaughter, and this protest calls for the closure of all slaughterhouses. It unfortunately isn’t had to find examples of cruel practices and to make horrific videos showing them. It’s certainly good that such cruelty is exposed and that the laws that exist against such practices are used with full force to outlaw them – and where necessary that such laws are strengthened. We certainly should try to develop more humane ways to kill animals for food, which I think has been the aim of our previous legislation in the area, but I’d sure this could be improved.

I think all species are inherently “speciesist” and we should not feel any guilt about thinking there is something special about humanity. To suggest that cows or pigs or sheep are “just like us” is simply wrong; in many important ways they are simply not, though of course there is much we share.

Of course some of the claims made are simply wrong. Dairy cows have been extensively bred to produce many times the amount of milk their calves require. We can drink it or use it to make butter and cheese without “stealing it from the calves.” We take honey from the bees (something I’ve certainly done myself) but have to give them sugar to keep the colonies healthy so they will produce more honey for us in following years and so on. As I wrote back in June, “keeping animals and killing them for food or milking them can be done in a decent and humane way and one that has an important contribution to our environment.” Like everything in nature it needs balance.

More pictures at Close all Slaughterhouses.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.