Criminal Law

By Kate Gunther


Criminal Consequences for Vegan Freedom Fighters

Remember the days when anyone who lived without delicious ice cream, chocolate or cheese were doing so because of a dire health condition or allergy? Remember how you pitied those people? Well, pity no more! it seems in 2019 those sentiments are rarely needed (or wanted) given the growing popularity of vegan lifestyles.

With Veganism on the rise, our nation has become the stage for vegan demonstrations in recent months including a mass protest causing Melbourne’s CBD to come to a halt in peak hour traffic, multiple trespasses on Queensland’s abattoirs and food package tampering in Woolworths supermarkets.

While this conduct may seem like relatively harmless protests for animal rights, they have been met with thorough disapproval by the wider community and have even attracted criminal charges.

The Melbourne CBD protestors now face charges of obstructing a roadway, obstructing an emergency worker and obstructing police. The most serious of these charges being obstructing police which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

Similarly, the trespassers from Queensland now face criminal charges with trespass carrying a maximum of a $3,000.00 fine or 1 year imprisonment.

Unlike their unlucky comrades-in-arms, the food package tampering vegans have, so far, eluded police. This is likely because, at worst, these crafty vegans have only offended meat-eaters. This may amount to the Victorian offence of obscene behaviour which carries a maximum penalty of only $2,250.00 or three months imprisonment.

Woolworths might disagree with the assessment that this conduct is merely offensive as the stunt resulted in many meat products to be labelled with confronting slogans such as “this package contains the dead body of someone who wanted to live.” Not only does this behaviour require Woolworths to dedicate labour to removing those labels, it also has the potential to negatively affect the sale of meat products. This may have a very real financial impact on a victim supermarket.

These outspoken Vegans may be offensive to meat eaters, inconvenient for Melbourne’s CBD and a little extreme but, criticize them as you like, at least they are creative with their labels. A few of my personal favourites are:

  1. “isn’t it time you stopped drinking breast milk?” (found on cow’s milk).
  2. “eating meat causes cancer, heart disease and erectile dysfunction.” (found on ground beef).

Due to these recent current affairs (and some vocal animal-rights activists in our office) I’ve recently learned many who do not eat ice cream, chocolate or cheese are actually choosing to do so. While the rest of us at Aulich have no problem with eating their slice of office chocolate cake, we also don’t want to see any Vegans land themselves in trouble through animal-rights demonstrations which cross the line into criminal conduct.