Becky Folkard
Becky Folkard plans to brand three people in an animal rights protest in March (Facebook)

A vegan from Hampshire is preparing to brand three people with a red hot iron as part of a protest against animal cruelty.

Becky Folkard, 34, plans to brand three volunteers - two anonymous women and 24-year-old Ben Hannah - with the number 269, which refers to the ear tag given to a calf before it is sold as veal or leather.

The protest is against cruelty within the dairy industry. A similar protest took place in Tel Aviv, Israel, last October, during which three men were held down and branded with a hot iron, leaving them scarred for life.

Folkard, a wealth management executive, has been a vegetarian since the age of nine and a vegan for the last two years.

Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv protesters demonstrated against animal cruelty in October (269life.com)

She hopes the protest, which will take place on 31 March in central London, will persuade more people to stop eating meat.

"If one person goes away and researches a vegan lifestyle because of this it will have been worth it," she said.  

"We're taking a huge risk because so many people will see what we're doing as extreme but, in the past, you had ­suffragettes, which was hugely controversial.

"Females only have a vote now because women chained themselves to railings and ran in front of horses - we have to move with the times.

Tel Aviv
The number 269 refers to a the tag given to a calf being sold for veal or leather (269life.com)

"The more I looked into the dairy industry the more I thought it was abhorrent. There's an animal holocaust - that's the only way I can describe it. By supporting the dairy industry you're supporting animal cruelty and everything that is wrong."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said it supports Folkard and her protest. A spokesperson said: "Every day, millions of animals raised for food are subjected to horrific mutilations, including being branded with hot irons, having their tails and beaks cut off, and being castrated - all without pain relief.

"Anyone who's uncomfortable with Ms Folkard's action should ask themselves how it is possible to justify any mutilations of farmed animals, which you do if you buy meat. After all, when it comes to pain and fear, all of us - whether human, cow or pig - share the same experience."

Tel Aviv
The campaign group is protesting against cruelty in the dairy industry (269life.com)

Folkard came across the 269 campaign online. Its Facebook page has almost 15,000 supporters and has a host of pictures of people tattooed with the number 269 in support of the campaign.

Although she does not plan to be branded herself, Folkard said she was inspired to do the demo after seeing the Tel Aviv branding protest.

She said she admired the protestors and did not see it as shocking: "I immediately wanted to be involved and thought, 'I couldn't do the branding, that sounds terrifying'. But then I thought about it more and ­realised why not?"