A VEGAN group has spoken out in support of an activist who sprayed “dairy = death” over the window of a cheese shop.

The shopkeeper blamed “militant vegans” for the graffiti, which appeared on Barney’s Delicatessen in Kensington Gardens, Brighton last week.

But an anonymous “Brighton animal rights collective advocate” defended the actions, saying: “What is more extreme, killing an animal or spraying paint?”

The Argus approached a vegan group in the city for comment last week. The body did not claim responsibility, but said it supported the graffiti.

In a statement, the organisation said: “Although the act of graffiti is vandalism, we support the message of animal liberation relayed in it.

“The same system that classes graffiti as vandalism allows the exploitation and killing of individuals and therefore we must challenge this institution.

“What is more extreme, killing an animal or spraying paint?”

The group said activism is a useful way to highlight an “unjust system” which protects those taking advantage of animals and normalises violence.

Its response also singled out the role eating animal products is thought to have played in the spread of coronavirus.

The statement said: “Whilst we are all in lockdown, non-human animals are being bred and killed under a capitalist society, which is a big factor in why viruses such as Covid-19 are spreading in the first place.”

It added: “This is also a human rights issue. Slaughterhouse workers are being forced to work during the pandemic, and thereby being put at a disproportionately high risk of catching the virus.”

Barney’s Deli owner Michaela Myers, 52, told The Argus last week that the activists had targeted the wrong people.

She said she sympathises with concerns about animal welfare, but believes the decision to single out 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.”

She said the damage would cost “a small fortune to remove”.