SUSPECTED militant vegans have vandalised a cheese shop, spraying “dairy = death” over the window.

The bright red graffiti appeared on Barney’s Delicatessen in Kensington Gardens, Brighton, overnight on Tuesday.

Shop owner Michaela Myers, 52, thinks hard-line vegan activists are behind it.

“This is the second time our shop has been targeted by militant vegans, whose ignorance never ceases to amaze me,” she said.

“A year ago we found the words ‘Mmm cancer’ sprayed on the floor just outside the shop. We’d only just opened and they were already targeting us.”

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This time, shop manager Sam Gilbert, 30, found the graffiti daubed on the shopfront on his way to work. He sent a picture to Michaela, who was “devastated”.

“The emotional impact alone has been horrible,” she said. “I’ve got that knotted, twisting feeling inside – my stomach’s still churning.

“When Sam saw it, he felt like he’d almost been punched. He’s still going into work every day. Seeing this thoughtless graffiti was so hurtful for him.

“It’s really upsetting that people feel the need to do something like this. We’re just trying to make a living, help the community and get through this difficult time.”

Michaela sympathises with people’s concerns about animal welfare.

But she believes the decision to target her shop was “ill-informed and misguided”.

“I understand there are some concerns about aspects of the dairy industry, particularly big corporate dairies,” she said.

“But they’ve targeted the wrong people here – we’re against that kind of production.

“Our cheeses are made by local farmers with small herds. These are properly run small holds that treat animals with care and respect.

“We wouldn’t be selling products if the animals’ welfare was in any doubt. This vandalism is wrong, and it’s ruining livelihoods.

“We’re not the only place to have been affected by graffiti – it’s all over the city.”

Michaela said the damage will cost “a small fortune to remove” at a time when the firm is already struggling to keep afloat.

“We are working so hard to save our business and serve the community during this uncertain time. We really don’t deserve this,” she said.

Last month, Michaela spoke to The Argus about how her business had been struggling to cope amid the pandemic – and had diversified to cope with the lockdown. The deli has started delivering boxes of groceries and essentials to customers in isolation.

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