Vegan activists have become increasingly disruptive as a protest shut down the intersection of Flinders and Swanston Streets in April of this year. 

As one of Melbourne’s busiest intersections became the scene for chaos bringing traffic to a standstill and impacting businesses, police charged 39 people with obstruction-related offences.

Ambulances were forced to reroute to the five major trauma hospitals in the CBD, 11 tram routes were disrupted during peak hour, and many commuters faced significant delays when protesters chained themselves to vehicles that had been used to block the intersection.

The protest was part of an Australia-wide campaign to promote ‘Dominion’, a documentary claiming to expose inhumane practices related to Australian livestock farming.

While vegans have made a lifestyle choice to exclude all animal products from their diet, it seems that a minority feel the right to force their opinions onto others. With the movement towards a plant-based lifestyle becoming more prevalent in Western countries, the nature of this aggressive protesting can lead to negativity towards vegans.

A 2015 study by Canadians Cara McInnis and Gordon Hodson, of the University of Calgary, Canada, found that vegans were second only to drug addicts in terms of negative bias from the general public. Through empirical evidence in two different studies, they also found that vegans were more negatively viewed than other groups such as those who chose a gluten-free diet. In their third study, they found that vegans and vegetarians themselves reported negativity from people concerning their dietary choices.

The April protests were designed to raise awareness among the public about the supposed cruel conditions in slaughterhouses and farms. The protestors believe that consumers with sufficient knowledge wouldn’t support the way their meat is obtained.

While vegans are entitled to their choices and can be applauded for trying to create a kinder society, actions such as confronting farmers, aggressive protests and disrupting CBD traffic and businesses, can seem contradictory to what they’re trying to achieve.

What do you think of the vegan protestors? Do they make you want to move to a plant-based lifestyle?

To lodge your opinion, vote now.