Hundreds of vegan activists representing the Animal Liberation Front of Israel marched through central Tel Aviv in total silence Thursday night, to protest for animal rights.
“We’re talking about one million murder victims every day, just in Israel, that are not even considered victims,” said Tal Gilboa, one of the group’s founders. “Our goal is to raise awareness of animals, to relate to and talk about this.”
The demonstrators walked slowly in two orderly lines down the pedestrian corridor in the center of Rothschild Boulevard, one of Tel Aviv’s main thoroughfares. Police escorted the marchers and stopped traffic along the way.
The protesters held signs with slogans that read: “Meat is not food. It is someone else’s body,” “Fish also feel pain,” “Eggs are murder” and “Your food had a face.” On the back of each sign was a photo of a mistreated farm animal. About 1,000 people attended the march, according to the group.
Gilboa, a prominent activist and winner of the popular Israel’s Big Brother reality TV show, established the local branch of the Animal Liberation Front three years ago. She said that the event’s attendees represented only a fraction of the group’s members nationwide, and that there were branches of the organization in different regions of the country.
The Animal Liberation Front is an international rights movement dating back to 1976. The Israeli branch is connected to the worldwide group, but not as extreme as some of their counterparts, Gilboa said.
“The people with the masks and everything, that’s exactly the opposite of what’s needed in Israel. We’re not Hamas, we’re not ISIS,” Gilboa told The Times of Israel. “You can see everyone here, it’s really the people of Israel that are walking here.”
The march ended with a rally in the large plaza outside Israel’s national Habima theater. Demonstrators waved their signs at passersby, while Gilboa gave a speech and led a chant of “Justice, compassion, veganism!”
Roughly five percent of Israelis are vegans, a rate that is among the highest worldwide. The IDF offers soldiers vegan-friendly food, partly in response to a 2014 protest by active-duty vegan soldiers. In 2015, Condé Naste Traveler declared Tel Aviv the world’s best city for vegetarian restaurants.
Thursday’s protest was orderly and quiet, but some Israeli animal rights activists are more unruly. Members of the 269Life protest group even branded themselves in public to draw attention to animal cruelty.
Gilboa has met with vegan activists abroad and said Israel is known for the strength of its animal rights community.
“We started this group three years ago with 15 people and you see what’s going on now,” she said. “This doesn’t happen in any other place, the strength of the community.”