The Vegan Camp-Out was started back in 2016 by a group of activist friends, as a way to bring vegans from all over the country (and eventually the world) together. It's a weekend of friends and vegans uniting to experience inspiring talks, educational workshops, great food, live music, family entertainment, and afterparties each night.
That first event was just a small gathering in a field. By 2017, it had grown to include speakers, workshops, and other offerings - becoming the world's first vegan event of its kind. This year we are expecting up to 8,000 people from more than 30 countries around the world to attend. We can't wait to join forces once again and celebrate the vegan lifestyle we've all chosen.
In April, pro-bloodsports pressure group the Countryside Alliance (CA) partnered with The Telegraph newspaper to publish an article on the event, titled Farming charity criticized for hosting vegan festival with 'aggressive anti-farming agenda'.
Quoting CA Chief Executive Tim Bonner, the article claimed Vegan Camp-Out has an 'aggressive anti-farming agenda'. In the piece, Bonner said he'd written to the Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society, to 'raise his concerns'. He wants the Society to 'cancel this event to protect the farming community, rather than the promoting extremists who want to end their way of life'.
Following the publication of the article, the venue started to come under pressure. While the venue had always been supportive of the festival, it now issued an ultimatum: cancel the hunt sabs' official involvement with the event, or cancel it.
This was disappointing (one of our team is an active hunt sab themselves) and left us with a difficult decision, but we ultimately felt that in light of the bigger picture, it would have been a bigger concession to the CA to cancel the event. We therefore decided to withdraw the stall we had donated to the hunt sabs so everything could still go ahead.
There are more than 100 vegan organizations involved with Vegan Camp-Out, and canceling the event would have been a huge blow to all of them, and therefore to the animals. It would also be a major disappointment to the thousands of people who had booked to come from all around the world.
In light of all this, canceling was not the right option. The Countryside Alliance set out to cancel Vegan Camp-Out. We felt that to cancel the whole event would be giving Alliance members everything they wanted.
We explained to the hunt sabs that we plan to have them back next year, or as soon as we can, as this was not the decision we wanted to make.
After this news became public, a slew of incorrect statements started circulating online. Some people have claimed that 'the Countryside Alliance asked Vegan Camp-Out to remove the sabs'. This is untrue - Camp-Out has had no direct contact with the CA.
There is also a rumor circulating that 'the venue used for Camp-Out is used for hunting'. This is also not true. The venue is used for a range of activities, as such, it has always been very supportive of and welcoming to Camp-Out. Another rumour we wanted to address is that 'sabs have been banned from attending'. This is also untrue.
We support hunt sabs and the work they do and have given them a free stall to raise money at every event we've organized. But we were faced with a decision out of our control and understood the negative impacts that canceling the event would have had to so many more.
We are all animal rights activists and that's what drives the Vegan Camp-Out. The activism workshops we have running all weekend inspire thousands of new or non-active vegans to get involved with activism all around the country, therefore pushing the vegan movement forward. We firmly believe that Camp-Out is a very positive thing for the vegan community and the animals.
Because we believe we need unity in the movement, we invite all hunt sabs to this year's event. Many sabs have told us they will not be defeated by the Countryside Alliance and will be talking with attendees about the great work they do for wildlife; as well as handing out flyers and selling things to raise funds for their groups.
We work tirelessly for the vegan community to be able to come together and unite to drive forward the vegan movement that little bit more each year.
Vegan Camp-Out always has, and always will be, for the animals.