The Calais mayor’s office noted it had to cancel a vegan festival, originally slated for September 8, in order to “guarantee public safety” in a bid to protect both organizers and attendees from a potential “outbreak” of violence, The Local reported.
I am sad to see that free speech is not allowed in France and threats of violence win. The Mayor of Calais has cancelled a peaceful CALAIS VEGAN FESTIVAL at a town venue due to threats of violence by hunters and butchers.— Gregg Patterson (@gregg_patterson) 25 августа 2018 г.
Authorities cited being aware of a “series of operations aimed at stirring up trouble” and a possible disruption of public order by hunters and farmers.
Ridiculous and grotesque! Do vegans and vegetarians not have the same liberty and rights to exist as hunters and butchers and meat eaters in a democratic country?!#veganism #CalaisVeganFestival https://t.co/8pUWZPnz6H— ZhangZhang (@ZhangZhangZhang) 25 августа 2018 г.
Vegetarianism and even stricter veganism have gained ground in today’s France, a historically meat-loving country where only plant-based food is a rare sight on restaurant menus. The trend is believed to be there due to a surge in animal rights activism, which is gaining momentum on social networks and mass media.
In June, French butchers directed an open letter to the French interior minister claiming their lives are in danger and seeking official police protection from “intimidating” vegan campaigners wishing “to impose their lifestyle on the immense majority” of the predominantly meat-loving nation.
They cited a widely publicized precedent when several butcher shops were attacked and sprayed with fake blood in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France in April.
A little earlier, a vegan cheesemaker made a controversial reference on Facebook to a supermarket butcher killed in a store, saying “there is justice in it.”
"You are shocked that a murderer is killed by a terrorist," wrote the animal rights activist, referred to in the media as Myriam. "Not me. I've got zero compassion for him, there's justice in it," the campaigner wrote, prompting prosecutors to press charges against him.
Veganism gaining popularity in France has naturally led to a decline in meat sales, to farmers’ utmost frustration, who therefore lobbied the French government to resist measures largely seen as going against France’s longstanding meat traditions.
A bill to demand that schools occasionally offer vegetarian lunch options was blocked by the parliament, while food manufacturers advocated for ditching names like "steak", "fillet", "bacon" or "sausage" with regard to non-meat products.