Animal Rights Activists in northern California are proof of at least one thing: persistence pays off. Or does it? For months, the berkeley-based vegan group, DXE, has held protests and demonstrations outside of The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley, California. But they weren’t making a scene only to raise awareness. Their goal was to make Berkeley a meat-free city. But did they succeed?

Independent butcher shop under attack from vegan group

The Local Butcher Shop is an independently owned and operated butchery, run by husband-and-wife team Monica and Aaron Rocchino. They sell locally sourced meats from sustainably raised animals.

In addition, they teach butchery classes and promote a no-waste culture, encouraging the consumption of the entire animal.

Their weekly classes were attracting more than just meat enthusiasts, however. The animal right activists also showed up, and their demonstrations made quite an impression. Demonstrators were photographed lying nearly nude, splattered in fake blood and wrapped in plastic wrap, to imitate meat sold in The Local Butcher Shop. People passing could also hear recordings of pigs squealing inside factories.

To keep protestors at bay, butchers hang animal rights sign

The demonstrations and protests became so disruptive to the community that The Local Butcher Shop called a truce with the DXE. Originally, the vocal vegan group had aimed to close down the shop or force it to discontinue its butchery classes.

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Instead, the two parties came to a mutual compromise: the DXE would only hold two more demonstrations during 2017 if the shop displayed a sign in their store window. Ironically, the 15in-by-15in sign reads: “Attention: Animals’ lives are their right. Killing them is violent and unjust, no matter how it’s done.” This sign aims to draw attention to more than animal rights. It’s challenging the belief that there’s such a thing as humane butchery.

Did animal rights activists target the wrong store?

The DXE may celebrate the storefront sign as a win for animal rights. However, food writer, Michael Pollan raised a noteworthy point when he said, “I don’t understand why activists would pick on a mom-and-pop shop rather than factories and meatpackers.” Ironically, the fast-food conglomerate, McDonald's, has a café near The Local Butcher Shop. Wouldn’t they be a more appropriate target for animal abuse?

Small win in Berkeley raises national awareness for animal rights issues

Berkeley residents still shop at The Local Butcher Shop, some of whom haven’t even noticed the sign yet.

But perhaps the real win for the DXE is the national awareness they’ve earned with their consistent demonstrations in front of this small storefront. Perhaps they’ve garnered more attention targeting a mom-and-pop shop than they would have gotten if they’d protested against McDonald's.

To make a significant impact in animal rights movements, it’s necessary to change the beliefs people have about animal rights and cruelty. These shifts usually don’t happen overnight, but at least one can say that the Berkeley demonstrations keep these issues raw.