EATING in? No, sitting in – in protest.
Climate activists staged a sit-in protest at a Somerset McDonald’s on Saturday (July 17).
Activists from the Animal Rebellion and Extinction Rebellion groups staged the peaceful protest from noon at the McDonald’s branch in Yeovil.
Branded a McSit-in, they brought their own lunches and occupied areas of the restaurant for two hours.
The campaigners are demanding the fast-food chain goes plant-based by 2025 and the demonstration follows a similar sit-in held in the Weymouth McDonald’s two weeks ago.
Catherine Cannon, who took part in the McSit-in, said: “McDonald’s needs to transition to a fully plant-based menu to address the climate, ecological and animal destruction it causes on a daily basis.
“McDonald’s and the wider intensive animal agriculture industry is responsible for huge levels of deforestation, and is a major driver of climate change.
“A fully plant-based McDonald’s may sound odd, but it is actually a very reasonable demand when we consider the scale of the crisis that we are facing.”
This local action comes just days after Animal Rebellion, a sister organisation to Extinction Rebellion, blockaded the McDonald’s burger factory in Scunthorpe, which they claim is the only producer of McDonald’s burgers in the country.
The factory, which makes up to 3 million beef patties a day for McDonald’s, was shut down for almost three days by activists who used bamboo structures and trucks to block the entrance.
In May, around 100 Animal Rebellion activists blockaded all four of McDonald’s UK distribution centres, effectively shutting down the UK supply chain of the biggest fast food company in the world, affecting around 1,300 restaurants.
Catherine said: “We are absolutely not doing this to criticise individual diet choices. We don’t want to spoil anyone’s lunch.
“A plant-based burger is a win-win-win for peoples’ health, animals and the climate and ecological emergency, plus advances in food technology are so good you can barely taste the difference.
“As the biggest fast food corporation in the world, McDonald’s has a responsibility to lead the way to a more sustainable future”.
Scientists widely agree that meat and dairy consumption are major contributors to climate breakdown.
Just this week, scientists confirmed that the Amazon is now emitting more carbon dioxide than it is able to absorb, with most of the fires deliberately set to clear land for grazing and to grow soy for livestock feed.
And the government-commissioned National Food Strategy, led by Henry Dimbleby, recommended that the government set a target to reduce the nation’s meat consumption by 30% by 2030.
Rose Patterson, a spokesperson for Animal Rebellion, said: “We’re living in a time where massive change is possible, but our window to act on the climate crisis is closing quickly.
“To save ourselves and the future of our children, we must start transitioning towards a plant-based food system.”
Chantal While, from Yeovil, another activist at Sunday’s sit-in, said: “We are in the middle of a climate and ecological emergency and we are still consuming huge quantities of meat on a scale that is just not sustainable for our planet.
“This has to stop.
“McDonald’s has a real opportunity to lead on this, but currently other chains such as Burger King and Wagamamas are doing far more.”
McDonald’s says it is constantly looking for ways to reduce the company’s impact on the environment.
“We want the best for the environment. To us that means constantly challenging ourselves to find ways in which we can use our scale and our people, to influence and drive change,” a statement on the company’s website says.
“By rethinking, reducing and recycling, we’re minimising the impact we have on the environment. We’ve made big progress so far, but we know there’s lots more to do.”