Speaking at the launch of National Steak Day earlier this week (2 April), Smith and Wollensky operations director Nathan Evans said the rise of organised animal welfare groups was an ongoing concern for restaurateurs across the country, including himself.
“The meat industry is under siege,” he said.
“This rise in activism is something I worry about all the time. Even at an event like this, if it didn’t cross my mind that there might be a picket outside then I’d be mad. Because it is now one of those things that we face every day.”
There have been several reported cases of campaigners entering restaurants to protest the inclusion of meat dishes on menus. In Brighton last week, activists from Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) stormed Jamie’s Italian waving signs saying “it’s not food, it’s violence”. While in London’s Mayfair, vegan protestors also representing DxE were reportedly confronted by chef Clément Leroy brandishing a pair of dead ducks after entering his Michelin-starred restaurant The Square.
Evans said he founded National Steak Day to celebrate and showcase prime quality red meat that is sourced from producers who adhere to the highest welfare standards. And though he has concerns, he said he would not be intimidated by those adopting more direct activism techniques.
“They have a message. They feel very passionate about animal rights and we appreciate that. As with everything though, there’s right a way of getting your message across. And I think that opting to enter restaurants and supermarkets to try and frighten customers is a bit ridiculous.”
The inaugural National Steak Day will be held on 25 April, offering 25% off steaks at restaurants across the UK, including Bodeans BBQ, Mr White’s English Chophouse, Goodman Canary Wharf, Gaucho and Hix restaurants.