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Calais bans vegan festival after threats

Products on sale in a vegan supermarket in Austria
Products on sale in a vegan supermarket in Austria REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

The town council of the French port of Calais has cancelled a vegan festival, saying there was a threat to public order. The organisers say the decision was because of threats from hunters and farmers.


The council cited "information announcing a series of operation aiming to stir up trouble and disrupt public order" as the reason for the cancellation.

"To guarantee the public's safety and avoid exposing the salon's visitors, partners and organisers to the risk of violence, the choice was made to cancel this event," it said in a statement.

The organisers said on Facebook that Calais' right-wing mayor Natacha Bouchart had decided on the ban because of "very explicit" threats from hunters and livestock farmers.

Butchers attacked

Veganism, whose proponents advocate living without any products arising from the exploitation of animals, has gained popularity in France recently, despite the country's longstanding carnivorous culture.

That has alarmed some farmers and butchers, who accuse them of "wanting to impose their lifestyle on the immense majority of people", as a letter to Interior Minister Gérard Collomb put it in June.

In April several butchers' shops were vandalised and sprayed with fake blood in the Hauts de France region, where Calais is situated.

Vegan activists have disavowed the attacks and insisted their movement is non-violent.

Government lobbied

Collomb met butchers' professional association leader Jean-François Guihard to discuss the attacks and farmers' groups have lobbied the government against what they see as anti-meat measures in recent weeks.

A proposal to force school canteens to provide at least one vegetarian meal a week was voted down in parliament.

Food producers are also calling for a ban on the use of the terms "steak", "fillet", "bacon" or "sausage" for non-meat products.

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