Vegan festival gets chop as meat lobby threatens to fire up the barbie
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Vegan festival gets chop as meat lobby threatens to fire up the barbie

Paris: The French city of Calais has been no stranger to public disorder in recent years, with recurrent battles between police and migrants or striking ferry workers making headlines worldwide.

Now its council says the port town is facing a bizarre new threat: an alliance of hunters and farmers seeking revenge on vegans bent on turning the largely carnivorous French off meat.

This burger is made from plant protein. It's the sort of development that's infuriating the French meat lobby.

This burger is made from plant protein. It's the sort of development that's infuriating the French meat lobby.

Photo: AP

The risk of trouble has led the council in Calais to cancel a vegan festival due to be held in the city centre on September 8. The move is the latest episode in a battle between vegan militants, and butchers and other providers of meat in the north of France.

Radical non-meat eaters have been on the offensive, vandalising several butchers' shops in the region and elsewhere in recent months, prompting the French federation of butchers to issue a plea for police protection.

The Calais mayor's office has said it had to ban the vegan event to "guarantee public safety" and to protect organisers and visitors from the "risk of an outbreak of public disorder".

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It provided no details but said it had become aware of a "series of operations aimed at stirring up trouble". Farplace, the association that organised the festival, was more specific about where threats were coming from. It claimed on the event's Facebook page that city hall officials had told it that "hunters and farmers had come together to make very clear threats about what might happen if the event was held".

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with a butcher as he visits the meat pavillon at the Rungis wholesale food market, south of Paris in May 2017.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, left, shakes hands with a butcher as he visits the meat pavillon at the Rungis wholesale food market, south of Paris in May 2017.

Photo: AP

Laurent Rigaud, head of the butchers' federation in the region, said that if the festival had gone ahead, they "were ready to organise a big barbecue [in Calais], along with hunters, farmers and restaurateurs. We wanted to show that we are not the violent ones, but that there are extremists among the vegans," he told Le Figaro newspaper.

He said about 400 people had said they would turn out for the meat-eating event, but insisted they would have remained peaceful.

The vegan festival organisers are looking for another venue to rent "outside of Calais". With just 3 per cent of the population vegetarian or vegan, eating less meat has been slow to catch on in a country proud of its boeuf bourguignon and foie gras.

French butchers have been the subject of scrutiny in recent months after a spate of reports from abattoirs and battery farms revealing apparently inhumane conditions.

Telegraph, London