By Joseph Greenough
A group of masked animal rights activists gathered at New Dock on Saturday (October 26) to protest against the Leeds sausage and cider festival.
The protesters were members of a group called Anonymous for the Voiceless, an animal rights organisation that operates worldwide to promote veganism and animal abuse awareness.
The event, a first appearance for Leeds, celebrates the food alongside party games, eating competitions and live music.
Colin Sickler from Leeds, who organised the demonstration said: “This is a sausage festival. Sausages have taken the life of an innocent creature. A lot of people don’t really associate that because it no longer looks like an animal.
“We’re here today showing these images to show people how it really happens. Hopefully they can make a connection.”
The protesters carried screens showing footage of slaughterhouses, meat production and animal suffering sourced from an Australian documentary called Dominion.
Colin added: “This is a country of animal lovers, but unfortunately, we pay for animal cruelty three, four, maybe five times a day.”
While some bystanders showed support for the cause, others felt their presence was unnecessary and confrontational.
John from Leeds said: “It’s a great way to spend a Saturday. Can’t go wrong with a beer and a sausage sarnie.”
Kirsty from Bradford, a visitor at the event said: “We’re just here having a good time. I don’t think just because you’re a vegan you should be able to guilt trip us just for eating meat.”
“They’re standing out here making everyone feel uncomfortable with their scary masks. On that note, I’m going for a sausage sandwich.”
Anonymous for the voiceless website states: “The mask has been used by Anonymous as a unifying symbol against the forces that still promote discrimination, corruption, injustice and oppression in any form in our society today”.
Kirsty also said: “I don’t think in the UK animals are actually treated like the way they’re showing on the screens.”
According to theconversation.com, in the UK every year roughly 10 million pigs, 2.6 million cattle, 14.5 million sheep, 80 million fish and 950 million birds are killed for food in conditions that “largely or completely ignore animal welfare.”
However, World Animal Protection, the global organisation against animal cruelty, has put the UK as among the best in the world for animal welfare standards and protections.
The group’s world rankings indexes 50 countries around the world according to their commitments to protect animals and improve animal welfare in policy and legislation.
Despite the demonstration outside, the festival in Leeds still proved a commercial success and is expected to return in 2020.
Georgina from Leeds said: “I’ve been protesting for two years now. If seeing this makes one of those people change their mind about eating meat, then it’s worth it.”
For more information on animal rights visit anonymousforthevoiceless.org.