August is the month of festivals, especially in the United Kingdom. The most well known are called Reading & Leeds, but there’s also Creamfields and One Love, not to mention the various smaller independent festivals all across the island. Vegan Camp-Out is one of the smaller festivals (at least when compared to Reading, for example) but has a big festival feel. It is about spreading the positivity of what can be accomplished by being Vegan and has a variety of speakers, activism classes and musical acts.
Vegan Camp-Out is, as the name implies, a festival primarily for Vegans. First started in 2016 to an attendance of 400 (with one food vendor) the Camp-Out has since gone from strength to strength and gotten bigger and bigger every year. As a non-vegan I was curious as to what exactly the festival would have to offer myself (aside from Enter Shikari based shenanigans, which I cover in a separate article), I had so many questions. What do Vegans do at a festival? What do they talk about? Do they just walk around patting each other on the back? Are they preachy? In over my head, perhaps. But I was very eager to learn the different ways people live.
Queuing up from the outset you saw how serious these festival goers were about their veganism. If you had to take a shot every time you saw a shirt that had vegan printed on it you would be drunk before you even got into the festival grounds. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just an observation. You wouldn’t go to an anime convention and make fun of all the people there for cosplaying as their favourite characters would you? I always enjoy seeing people having such strong enthusiasm for whatever passion they may have.
The sense of community was strong here, different from Reading or even Glastonbury as nearly everyone has one key thing in common with one another. It’s like one piece of small talk is out of the way and you can get down to the important stuff (unsurprisingly mostly about food). The site at Newark Showground, Nottinghamshire was near perfect for the amount of campers who were housed within. The drunken treks back to the tent were surprisingly simple as the site was not overpacked in the way you find at the more commercial festivals. The site was well laid out and it was easy to find everything, if you did happen to be off your face on alcohol (or perhaps another substance), the festival goers would help you as they all seem so friendly and nice.
Throughout the weekend there was a variety of speakers, music and activism events and a tent specifically for “Mind and Body”. If you are not a Vegan you probably would not recognise many of the names that are on offer (bar a few), but if you go to any event with an open mind then you are likely to find something interesting to take home with you. However some of the advice - like getting arrested in the name of spreading the Vegan cause - may be something a bit too extreme for myself. The music was varied and featured Rock, Pop, Acoustic, Hip Hop, Punk and even Vegan Grime thrown in for good measure! Being more of a Rock based fan my highlights included the bands Habits and Drones. Habits have a traditional punk feel with big riffs, massive ramp ups with most songs leading to an eventual big finish.
Drones sounded similar to Welsh rock band The Blackout! But with a female vocalist that could really belt out a rock banger to the Vegan crowds. Also the Enter Shikari influence that was present at the festival was something I enjoyed personally.
The food was another talking point around the Camp-Out. Obviously when a festival is centred around someone’s diet you would expect there to be a lot of fine food available and this was definitely the case. The first evening I had a delicious southern fried chicken style burger from Chick-Hen, the second evening I had a chicken style gyro and also had time to fit in a cooked breakfast and Vegan style bacon cheeseburger. The selection of vendors was huge! Pizza, kebab, smoothies, juices, Indian, ice cream, cakes, Chinese, burgers, hot-dogs and more! It is a shame because two evenings just is not enough time to try all of the food; from what I saw all of it was high quality and delicious. When people say it is difficult to eat Vegan (myself included) there may be a variety of reasons as to why they think this is, but this festival has shown me that Vegan eating can be diverse, delicious and not complicated at all.
Overall I had a wonderful time at Vegan Camp-Out 2019. Everyone was there united with one passion and that passion was to be kinder to not just animals but the world as a whole. Sure Vegans are stereotyped as preachy, sometimes even crazy people but having a passion about trying to spread positivity to all creatures and make the world a better place surely is not a bad thing! My one regret is that I wish I could have seen more whilst I was there, a minor complaint in a weekend filled with good music, great food and awesome company.