DOZENS OF Australian animal rights activists were arrested this week after breaking into abattoirs and chaining themselves up to machinery in protest against the meat industry.

More than 100 anti-meat protesters also blocked one of Melbourne's main intersections, and many had to be forcibly removed.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the vegan protests as 'un-Australian' and against the national interest, as they directly damaged farmers' livelihoods. He called on state authorities to bring the 'full force of the law' against the participants.

Campaigner Kristin Leigh told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: "We want people to go vegan – we want people to stop supporting animal abuse. Animals are suffering in ways that most of us could never imagine. It is not about bigger cages – it is about animal liberation."

However, Australia is second only to the US for meat consumption per person, according to the World Economic Forum, and the Australian public has responded to the vegan campaign in typically blunt fashion, filling social media with pictures of bacon and steaks, and threats to 'eat a Big Mac' for every minute they are delayed by vegan roadblocks.

The Australian Meat Industry Council commented that butcher shops had been under a sustained 'attack' by campaigners.

"This has to stop and stop now,"said chief executive Patrick Hutchinson. "We need to look at the 99% of people in Australia that are looking to and wanting to consume red meat products."