It is 5.30am in Melbourne, Australia. Animal rights activists wait anxiously in the dark, before their leader Kristin Leigh gives the signal that it is time to go.
She directs them to the heart of the city, where they halt traffic for hours.
It is one of a string of protests in the activists’ fight to stop farmers from raising animals for human consumption.
Their tactics, such as trespassing on farms and stealing livestock, are controversial.
“I don’t think anyone has the right to break onto anyone’s property,” says Brian Ahmed, who has had activists trespass on his caged-egg farm outside Melbourne.
He wants tougher trespass laws.
“I think if this continues, we’re going to end up in a situation where someone will be hurt. When you’re woken up in the middle of the night, how they protect themselves might be dangerous. Most farmers have access to firearms,” he says.
But activists like Kristin Leigh, who admits she has stolen livestock from farms and abattoirs, say these tactics are necessary to protect animals.
“I can understand that people will feel confronted by that,” she says. “But I feel like the end objective justifies that. I feel like we’re not going to get there easily. There’s going to be some people who feel intimidated, going to feel threatened.”
With activists vowing to never give up until the world is completely vegan, 101 East investigates the bitter divide over Australia’s farm animals.
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