Animal rights campaigners stormed a Melbourne steakhouse restaurant to "speak up for animals where their dead bodies were being consumed".
About 35 activists from campaign groups Direct Action Everywhere and Melbourne Cow Save Animal Liberation Army lined up across two levels of Rare Steakhouse in King Street to chant at diners eating their meals on Saturday night (27 January).
A statement from Melbourne Cow Save posted on Facebook, alongside a video of the action, said: "35 activists disrupted a Melbourne steakhouse to speak up for animals where their dead bodies were being consumed.
"In order to create change in our society, we must challenge current belief systems and force people to take a side; oppression or justice, cruelty or compassion.
"There is no humane way to kill someone who does not want to die. Always speak up loud and strong for those sentient beings who are oppressed. They need us to."
Chants included "humane slaughter is a lie," "It's not food, it's wildlife!" "It's not food, it's violence!" and "What do we want? Animal liberation! When do we want it? Now!" A woman also announced over a megaphone that "they feel pain just like us".
Campaigners also chanted in the street outside and held photos up to the windows until customers inside closed the blinds.
Rare Steakhouse manager Arryanne McIntosh told ABC News in Australia that the incident was "very upsetting" for both customers and staff, and that police took 15 minutes to arrive.
She said: "You're coming in for dinner and spending X amount of money — you don't want people yelling in your face. There were a couple of tables that were very upset, to be honest, one table in particular was very emotional. We just did the best we could to calm the people, give them comfort that the police were coming."
McIntosh also claimed the protesters were "hard to communicate" with. "I asked who was in charge and one lady said, 'We all are.' We were trying to talk to them but they were quite in-your-face with talking and speaking over the top of you — they were very loud, yelling."
An unnamed manager also told Daily Mail Australia that the meat they serve is "prepared humanely". They said: "They're from Australian cattle farms, we have a good connection with these people and we pride ourselves on making sure the standards of the meat and the way the animals are prepared is humane."
Victoria Police said the protesters left peacefully when asked to do so, and that no-one was arrested or injured.
Melbourne Cow Save was subjected to plenty of criticism in the Facebook comments under its video, with almost 2,000 comments and 104,000 views in just two days. One user wrote: "Way to show the world how virtue signaling, irritating, holier than thou and insufferably pretentious vegans can be and harming your own cause in the process!"
A second user said: "What a bunch of useless idiots.... Do you really think you can change people's minds by forcing your views down their throat when they are trying to have a peaceful dinner?"
Another called the protesters "genuine f**king morons" and multiple people posted pictures of meat.