Health food chain Whole Foods is suing vegan activist group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) in what campaigners have branded a bid to stop in-store protests.
According to the retailer, DxE members have been trespassing in shops during protests, in which campaigners want to highlight what they call 'criminal animal cruelty at farms' that supply Whole Foods.
Wayne Hsiung - a former law professor and leading member of DxE - was arrested earlier this year and charged with 'threatening bodily injury' after a protest at a Colorado Whole Foods store. A video of the incident - which has been viewed more than 3.4 million times - shows Hsiung asking a store manager where the animal products sold at Whole Foods come from, before being removed by police.
Wayne Hsiung is arrested after asking about the provenance of meat in Whole Foods
Hiding the truth
Hsiung claims the lawsuit is 'an effort to prevent exposure of disturbing animal abuse at Whole Foods farms'.
"Over the past four years, we've asked Whole Foods to sit down and discuss our findings, which are shocking and contradictory to everything the company claims about the treatment of animals at its farms," he said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
"The company has refused all conversations and is now resorting to lawsuits and trumped-up criminal charges. Factory farms and their partners understand the public is opposed to what’s happening behind those industrial doors. But instead of making change, they threaten the whistleblowers."
A statement from Whole Foods said: DxE members have repeatedly entered our stores and property to conduct demonstrations that disrupt customers and team members by blocking access to our aisles, departments, and cash registers, interfering with our business and putting the safety of both customers and team members at risk."