by Jo Kidd, co-ordinator of the annual Kent Vegan Festival in Canterbury
The Kent Vegan Festival is into its fourth year and is growing. Its aim is to raise awareness about veganism as a compassionate, holistic and healthy way of life in a family friendly way which is open to everyone.
While veganism is becoming increasingly popular as a way of life, some people still do not properly understand it.
The Vegan Society describes it thus: “[A] philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment.”
It embraces all aspects of life and promotes peace and non-violence towards all living beings and care for the earth. It is about connecting with nature, with ourselves and with other animals.
It is not just a fad or a diet and there are many reasons people try veganism.
For most, a love of animals is the catalyst along with a wish to avoid causing pain and suffering. Some people want to feel better about themselves and the impact they make on the world.
Others are concerned about global hunger and how we feed the world.
Animals are able to perceive and feel and experience pain and happiness just as we do.
Production of food and clothing causes them to suffer in innumerable ways.
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.
Research shows that health is the second biggest reason people go vegan. Cut out cholesterol, lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
The World Health Organisation has recently classified processed meat as carcinogenic and red meat as potentially carcinogenic.
Going vegan is the easiest and most effective way to help our planet.
Make a more positive impact than giving up your car, and halve your greenhouse gas emissions.
Animal agriculture is also the leading cause of deforestation, habitat destruction, species extinction, ocean dead zones and most of the worst environmental ills facing our world.
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.
More than one billion people go hungry each day, yet we feed more than 50% of all grain to farmed animals.
There has been a dramatic surge in veganism over the past decade or so – with a 700% rise in veganism over the past two years – 7% of the UK population is now vegan – and a 360% rise in the 10 years preceding that.
In my family, we believe that we should live as compassionately, sustainably and mindfully as possible and cause the least amount of suffering in the world.
This philosophy is encapsulated in veganism, which provides the template for how we want to live.
For us, it’s not a question of what we are giving up or missing but rather what we are gaining by having the peace of mind that we are causing the least amount of harm and suffering as possible.
This year the Kent Vegan Festival has landed at the larger venue of Canterbury College on New Dover Road.
There will be around 70 stalls covering all aspects of veganism from animal rights campaigns and rescues, food and food security, health, nutrition and well-being, clothes, skin care and environmental reasons for being vegan.
We have nine speakers, a poetry stage in the café area, so you can be inspired whilst you sup and a music stage with Rudy Warman and the Heavy Weather headlining.
We have a fantastic children’s area with plenty of outside green space and shade for when the sun gets too much.
We will have a teepee with story-telling, face-painting, natural crafts and lots of other activities.
There will also be a comedy show and an open mic for kids, a children activity tent loads of information and a chill-out area for young people.
We’re really excited about the year’s Kent Vegan Festival – so hope to see you there!
The 2018 Kent Vegan Festival takes place at Canterbury College, New Dover Road, Canterbury, from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, May 12. Tickets are £4 or £3 for those not earning or children over the age of 11. Children under 11 are free. You can pay on the door or buy tickets in advance via this link.