Inside the Kent Vegan Festival


What is Kent Vegan festival, and what will you find there?
Jo Kidd, the organiser of the festival, tells us more: 

Why Canterbury?

Canterbury has been described as one of the most vibrant cities in the UK, so it’s not surprising that we have seen such a huge surge in interest in veganism here.

We have many eateries offering vegan food, including the long-established Veg Box Café, which is working towards being 100% vegan. The Abbot’s Mill Project, a vegan project with the aim of developing a centre for sustainability and social justice, is also based in the middle of Canterbury.

The most recent to be part of the vegan surge is the newly launched 100% vegan pub, the Monument, on St Dunstan’s Street, which will be hosting the official Kent Vegan Festival after-party!

When we launched the Kent Vegan Festival in 2015, we were hoping for a few hundred people to turn up. In fact, around 1,300 people attended, with queues into the High Street for the entire day. We were overwhelmed and uplifted by the success of the first festival. The timing was perfect – people were just so ready for it!

Our aims:

The aim of the Kent Vegan Festival is to raise awareness about veganism as a compassionate, holistic, healthy and intrinsically non-violent way of life. We believe that there needs to be a pro-intersectional approach towards veganism and that this is, in fact, at the heart of the movement. Systems of oppression are interconnected not isolated.

It’s aimed at people who are, or are thinking about becoming vegan, those already moving towards the lifestyle; or who are just interested in finding out more about what veganism really means.

Our approach is to be supportive, educational, encouraging and positive: we believe in non-violence to all living beings and in peaceful, friendly, non-discriminatory means of campaigning and communicating our message.

Why veganism?

Veganism is not just about food (although that is a large part of it, of course – we all have to eat!). We have over 50 stallholders covering all aspects of veganism from animal rights, food and food security, clothes, skin care, animal rescue and environmental reasons for being vegan. There will be talks, workshops and films. We have two children’s zones this year with loads of fun and informative activities for young people. Potato Tomato, who have a vegan café in Whitstable’s Harbour village, will be running our cafe for the day and we have great music from local bands, featuring Rudy Warman and the Heavy Weather and poets, headlined by Alex Vellis (poet in residence for Canterbury’s own Wise Words festival).

Canterbury, along with the rest of the country, has seen a dramatic surge in veganism over the past decade:

  • Most of us will be able to name a famous vegan; examples include Al Gore, Johnny Marr, Joaquin Phoenix and Venus Williams. Even TV chefs are now embracing the vegan challenge and realising that we all need to move away from meat and dairy-focused diets.
  • Many people will have recently watched the brilliant new mockumentary on BBC iPlayer, Carnage, by comedian Simon Amstell (himself a vegan), which portrays an imagined vegan Britain 50 years from now.
  • A recent study by the Vegan Society and Vegan Life Magazine showed that veganism in Britain had increased by 360% over the 10 years from 2006 to 2016.
  • There are now over half a million vegans, which is over three and a half times as many as in 2006.

Veganism is, indeed, entering the mainstream!

It is estimated that at least 150 Billion land animals are killed globally each year by the meat, dairy and egg industries alone, with a further 1-2.5 trillion sea animals for food! 

The United Nations has said that we need small-scale, low impact, organic farming rather than large scale mass production or genetically modified crops to tackle global food insecurity. 

Over 1 billion people go hungry each day, yet we feed over 50% of all grain to farmed animals.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, habitat destruction, species extinction, ocean dead zones and most of the worst environmental ills facing our world. 

The World Health Organisation has recently classified processed meat as carcinogenic and red meat as probably carcinogenic. 

People are waking up to the truth about animal agriculture and other ways in which humans exploit non-human animals. More and more people want to follow a non-violent way of life, for the sake of the animals, the environment, social justice and their own health (physical, psychological and spiritual).

We would like to thank our generous sponsors and funders: Abbot’s Mill Project, Campaign against Leather and Fur (CALF), Plamil – So Free, Animal Aid, Bute Island Foods, The Vegan Society, Veg Fund, Curzon and Canterbury City Council.

Image credit: Kent Vegan Festival


Author: Jo Kidd

Jo Kidd the lead organiser of Kent Vegan festival. Jo is a lifelong community activist and has been vegan since 2003 and was veggie for 21 years before that. Jo set up Canterbury Vegans and Kent Vegan Parenting. Jo and her husband, Terry, are the founders of the Abbot’s Mill Project in Canterbury and previously co-founded Skillnet Group, both social enterprises. They have a 6-year-old daughter. The whole family is vegan and they co-house with fellow vegans just outside Canterbury.

Contact: jo@kentveganfestival.org

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