Vegan activists have struck a deal with an abattoir to allow them to stage 'last rites' ceremonies with incoming cows to tell them, "we love you, we are sorry".

Leicestershire Animal Save are hosting roadside monthly vigils once a month in Melton Mowbray in which they whisper phrases to cattle before they arrive at an abattoir run by Foyle Food Group.

The activists, who have held 35 ceremonies since founding their group in 2015, also hold signs which say "your taste=their death".

Group founder Dina Aherne said the group has an understanding with the slaughterhouse bosses, who let them stop the trucks and trailers which transport the cows.

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The 38-year-old former solicitor from Leicester said: "We want to make the cows feel at ease every time because they are living and sacred beings.

"Cows have a living soul and conscience. We really want to help comfort them.

"We have to arrange and give two weeks notice for when we are going to be on site.

"When we arrive usually at about 8am, we gather outside the slaughterhouse on days when the abattoir is operational for about three hours.

"We then stop each of the trucks and are given two minutes to say the last goodbye's before they go and get a bolt gun put through their head.

"We whisper phrases to them like 'we're sorry', 'we see you' and 'I love you'.

Ms Aherne said she believed the peaceful protests are the best way to spread the message about veganism and animal welfare.

She added: "Any social movements have different kinds of action and a lot of vegan groups resort to violence.

"But we condone this and the best way is to peacefully spread the message.

Foyle Food Group has nine sites across the UK where they slaughter and debone more than 7,500 cattle each week across its processing plants.

The company were approached to comment.