Protesters demonstrate in front of Chipotle on Telegraph Avenue

Arya Aliabadi/File

Related Posts

Update May 26: This article has been updated to reflect information from Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Animal rights activists on Telegraph Avenue protested Chipotle Mexican Grill’s alleged animal abuses, stopping traffic for about 10 minutes late Friday afternoon.

The protest was organized by Direct Action Everywhere — which has demonstrated against past animal testing in UC laboratories — as a prelude to its “worldwide day of action,” to take place Saturday. About 30 protesters stood outside the restaurant and handed out pamphlets stylized in Chipotle’s font.The activists stood near the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way, wearing white masks and holding signs that asked, “What is Chipotle hiding?”

Brian Burns, a graduating high school senior at Head-Royce School in Oakland and a member of the organization, said public response was better than he predicted.

“People were literally climbing out of their cars, asking, ‘What is Chipotle hiding?’” Burns said.

Direct Action focuses much of its attention toward Chipotle, Burns said, because of the company’s marketing campaigns that publicize sustainability and humane treatment, which protesters allege is false advertising.

Chris Arnold, a spokesperson for Chipotle, said the company serves more responsibly raised meat than any other restaurant company.

“There is absolutely nothing false about our advertising or the claims we are making,” Arnold said in an email. “And for customers who choose not to eat meat, we offer vegetarian and vegan options.”

Chipotle won the best vegan-friendly restaurant chain award in 2012 from an affiliate of PETA. According to the most recent investment press release, Chipotle’s first-quarter revenue for this year increased 24.4 percent compared to last year’s first quarter to $904.2 million.

“They’ve grown as a company,” Burns said. “They’re leading both the industry and our culture.”

Kimberly Veklerov is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @KVeklerov.