Vegans have turned on other plant-eaters for storming a Melbourne steakhouse and yelling abuse at diners, saying their protest made them “look stupid”.
About 35 activists entered the Rare Steakhouse on Little Collins Street about 6.30pm, chanting on loudspeakers and yelling at customers.
Many were also holding signs about the rights of animals.
The demonstrators were from the groups Melbourne Cow Save Animal Liberation Army and Direct Action Everywhere, who also shared a video on Facebook of the protesting at the restaurant while diners try to eat their meals.
The group Direct Action Everywhere - DxE Melbourne - wrote on their page on Saturday gloating about the rally saying:
“There is no humane way to kill someone who does not want to die. IT’S NOT FOOD, IT’S VIOLENCE.”
The footage sparked a heated debate among fellow vegans, many who slammed the groups for giving those living a meat-free lifestyle a bad rap.
While some praised the protesters for making a stand and speaking up for the animals who they said were not able to speak for themselves, many vegans were quick to distance themselves from the behavior in the stunt.
“I’m vegan and it makes me cringe to watch this. Nobody in that restaurant was thinking ‘you know what, f**k it, I’m not eating meat anymore’ after they saw these pelicans. It’s rude IMO too,” one wrote.
Another wrote: “Just a vegan passing through saying that I think this is so s**t. Don't put us all in the same category.. this will only leave a s****y taste in these peoples mouths for veganism and its just rude in general. Makes me feel uncomfortable seeing all this 'in your face, guilt tripping' stuff.”
One, who said they had been vegan for 26 years, said stunts like the one on Saturday night are why people have “such a bad opinion of vegans”.
“You won't make anyone stop eating meat through this sort of action, you're just demeaning yourselves and veganism in general,” they added.
One man agreed the protest would not help the crusade to change people’s lifestyle choices.
"I think they should be criticized for this stunt because no one will be converted to veganism by being told it's wrong to eat meat. All it will do is make people angry with vegans.
“If I were a vegan I'd be like ‘thanks guys, decades of good ‘we aren't arrogant’ public relations and information sessions down the drain,” he added.
The sentiment was echoed on the 7 News Australia Facebook page after sharing the initial article on the protest Monday night.
One woman wrote: "Absolutely disgusting behaviour! I’m vegetarian myself. I don’t eat meat because I don’t believe in killing animals to eat. But that’s MY thing.
"I’m not against anyone else who chooses to eat meat. These protesters aught [sic] to be ashamed at themselves."
One man chimed in on the debate on the 7 News page saying: “I am a bit shocked. you want to bully a person. no one has this right to make any one uncomfortable. you are just as bad as the slaughter man.”
Some meat eaters even thanked the vegans for the stunt, saying all it did was give the steakhouse publicity.
"Great work Vegan Army, I'm new to Melbourne & have been trying to find a great steakhouse! You just saved me the job of looking around, I know exactly where I'm going for dinner tomorrow," one man wrote.
Another added: "Good work Vegans, I appreciate you.....didn’t know this place existed till now, guess where I’m going lunch tomorrow."
A manager at the King Street restaurant said all meat they purchase is sourced from a butcher that prepares the animals “humanely”.
"They're from Australian cattle farms, we have a good connection with these people and we pride ourselves on making sure the standards of the meat and the way the animals are prepared is humane,” she told the Daily Mail Australia.
Rare Steakhouse venue manager Arryanne McIntosh told News Corp the protesters “were repeating propaganda and stuff relating to consumption of meat”.
She described the incident as a “very upsetting situation” for customers and employees, and said the activists made it difficult for the restaurant staff to communicate with them, so the police were called.
“We were trying to talk to them but they were quite in-your-face with talking and speaking over the top of you — they were very loud, yelling."
No arrests were made.