On the face of it, the Vegan Camp-Out appears to be a place for like-minded people to meet up and chomp on tofu.
Under normal circumstances this is something no reasonable person could object to, but dig a little deeper, beyond the colourful Instagram updates, and you have a much more sinister affair.
Central to the whole event is the promotion of activism and campaigning against traditional livestock farming.
The Vegan Camp-Out is as much about destroying other people’s way of life as it is about celebrating the vegan lifestyle.
Like many others, therefore, I was in total disbelief when I learned that the location for the annual gathering was the Newark Showground which is managed and owned by the Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society.
The Society, like many others around the country, is a charity set up to promote farming. I wrote to the showground’s Chairman, Roger Jackson, back in April to question why the Society was promoting activism against farmers and how such a decision had been taken.
The response was poor, and it failed to consider the gravity of the situation.
The line-up of speakers in recent years should have been enough to prove that the showground was a completely inappropriate location for such a meeting.
Speakers included Ronnie Lee, a convicted animal rights extremist, that founded the Animal Liberation Front; a violent organisation that inflicts terror on farmers.
Anti-dairy farmer preacher Erin Janus as well as James Aspey, who’s nauseating rants include comparing farming practises to rape and the holocaust.
On top of this, participants are given lectures in ‘grassroots activism’, which equips eager fresh recruits with the intel needed to wreak havoc and misery on farmers through direct action.
Recent stories in the press, including the conviction of an animal rights extremist Emma Christoforakis for bullying and harassing a Dorset sheep farmer as well the recent reports of invasions of pig and pheasant farms (which saw animal rights thugs kill thousands of chicks in Kent), should surely serve as a serious red flag to the Society.
The threat is indeed real and there should be no place for this activity on the showground.
I am in no doubt that the Agricultural Society cares deeply about farmers, but permitting this event, knowing full well the dubious line up of speakers and planned activity causes one to seriously cast doubt over its judgment.
The Society proudly claim to be ‘apolitical’, but this gathering is far from neutral and brings the ground into disrepute. Plans are underway for the same event to be held next year.
I seriously hope the Society reconsider whether allowing it to take place on their grounds, if in keeping with their own honourable objectives.
Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance