Diners at famed restaurant Joe Beef were treated to a show with their meals on Saturday evening, as a group of animal rights protesters unfurled banners and staged a protest inside the Little Burgundy restaurant.
TVA’s news network tracked down video of the protest, which one of the demonstrators captured and posted on Facebook.
It shows a small group trudging into the restaurant out of the rain — there appears to be about a dozen protesters, although the video is shaky and dark, making it difficult to see.
Once the group is inside, several of them held up signs in French with slogans like “animals are not food” and “we want animal liberation now”, while one member began a loud speech in French.
“We are here today to denounce cruel and injust violence...it’s a complete aberration.”
He then switched to accented English to continue.
“There are no moral and ethical justifications to patronize the killing and exploitation of two trillion animals this year alone. We demand that animals be free of all exploitation.”
The group then launched into a call-and-response chant; at that time, co-owner Fred Morin is visible standing among the protesters, talking on the phone (to co-owner Dave McMillan, it was confirmed) — moments later, the demonstrators are guided back out of the restaurant by staff without any use of force.
McMillan tells Eater that he wasn’t particularly fazed by the restaurant, noting that challenges crop up all the time.
“If it’s not this, it’s a pipe breaking or someone who had too much wine, or Obama [visiting], or some actor, I guess I’m desensitized.”
“The customers were not bothered, some of them were amused.”
The protesters were in the restaurant for no more than four minutes, although they continued chanting briefly on the sidewalk, while a Joe Beef employees filmed them; they then dispersed.
A group named Direct Action Everywhere organized the protest — that group is known mostly for protests in California, where it tends to target grocery stores and restaurants with protests, sometimes inside their premises; it has also drawn attention for protests at LA Dodgers games. Past protests from the Montreal chapter have been at a Costco store, mall food court, and a factory pig farm, but not inside restaurants.
McMillan says he thinks they came to Joe Beef to draw more attention than past protests (most protests posted on their Facebook page have just a few hundred views).
“It got them some attention, so good for them I guess...I see the arguments, I do think industrialized protein is intense.”
Direct Action Everywhere is particularly concerned about factory farming, and as a result, McMillan suggested that Joe Beef was perhaps not the best target, since the restaurant staunchly avoids mass-produced meat.
“We work with very small farms that we can visit at any given time, akin to the vegetable farmers, and the same goes for cheese, and for natural wine.”