"We live in fear and we’re up worrying at night—they are terrorising us.”
A small, family-run butcher shop called Marlow Butchers in the English town of Ashford in Kent said they ran into trouble about a month ago when someone spray-painted the front of their store with slogans such as “Stop killing animals” and “Go vegan.” As seemingly unnecessary as these actions were against someone simply trying to run a business like plenty of other butchers around the country (not to mention larger meat purveyors like grocery and restaurant chains), vandalism is just vandalism, so the Marlows simply cleaned up the graffiti and tried to move on.
After the getting their storefront back together, Marlow Butchers turned to its Facebook page to announce that they’d be open for business and to thank those who helped out. “The support that we have received has been amazing,” they posted. “Thank you again to each and everyone of you for your kind comments and of course to the lovely people that helped this morning!”
But as innocent as that decision may seem, the Marlows told Kent Online, after their Facebook post, things turned ugly. “On the internet it has been very threatening,” Wayne Marlow, who runs the business with his father and brother, told the local news site. “It has got ridiculous—activists from as far away as Australia are getting involved. The internet is the worst thing as not only are they threatening to physically destroy our business, but they are also tying to ruin our reputation online, too, by leaving negative reviews and comments. They want to close us down and people are threatening to smash the windows or petrol bomb the store. We live in fear and we’re up worrying at night—they are terrorising us.”
Wayne Marlow says he has no idea why his butcher shop was targeted. “We have been here for 54 years now since my dad took over the business and we are just supplying something that someone wants and is in demand,” he continued. “Every supermarket sells meat; we don’t get why they’re just targeting us.”
But the British farming and rural services organization Countryside Alliance told the Telegraph this is not an isolated incident. “There's been an escalation of attacks on butchers, markets, and even abattoirs,” Chief Executive Tim Bonner was quoted as saying. He said these groups will sometimes take the “cowardly” approach of specifically targeting small butchers because “if they find the right independent business it does bring a lot of pressure on family businesses and farmers.” Basically, it’s easier to see results when you go after a smaller target.
As for the Marlows, they’ve reported the threats to police and, though the online harassment is extremely troublesome, the business itself appears not to have had any other physical issues. But sadly, that’s about as happy of an ending as we’ll get in this battle. It’s a story without any winners: Instead a good business struggles and a way of life with positive intensions is painted in a negative light. If there’s any moral here, it’s that maybe both carnivores and vegans alike would benefit from spending less time online.