Earlier today, in a bold move, the festivals creative director revealed the festival may be considering going meat free for Boomtown 2020. It has created an extremely lively debate on social media. Seems we have a lot to discuss…
It was calculated that at least 10,000 animals were slaughtered to provide food for the 65,999 revellers at Boomtown 2018. Making up for more than a third of the festivals environmental impact! With Boomtown’s sustainability objectives taking centre stage during the 2018 closing show, reducing meat consumption could be a big win! Or is it instead a massive own goal, opposed by the festival’s fans…
Quick facts about a meat free Boomtown:
- It was already revealed last year that they are prioritising catering pitches for vegan, vegetarian and sustainably sourced meat vendors for Boomtown 2019. There are still meat options at Boomtown 2019.
- This is not a done deal, nor has it been officially announced. At the moment it’s just an idea being floated: for all vendors to be meat free in 2020 for the 5 days.
- Shambala, a 15,000 capacity UK festival with a similar ethos, already went meat free in 2016. A survey after Shambala 2017, showed that 94% of people who attended supported the policy.
A poll conducted today on the popular Facebook group Boomtown Chat, shows that only 138 of it’s members support such a move, with 360 members against. And a further 47 say they would be too busy chewing their own face off to care… So at first glance it appears like an unpopular and disastrous move. Especially if you want to keep your festival fans happy, sell tickets, and treat the festival as an excuse to print money….
But Boomtown is not a corporate money driven festival…
Boomtown have shown over the years, that profitability is not their goal. Boomtown nearly went bust in 2018 trying to keep the event running, while maintaining a high show standard. Running a huge independent festival is difficult and extremely expensive. Competing against the well funded corporate festivals, and with local authorities making their life difficult (e.g. sound levels), it’s a struggle just to survive. All the while trying to hold on to the original identity and values of the festival.
So no, profit is not the Boomtown end goal. The motivation of Boomtown has always been to create one of the greatest festivals in the world. They put guest experience first, at the expense of earning big profits. They have never compromised on the quality of the event, just to bank a few extra pounds. And that is why they nearly went broke last year! It’s a huge risk that they take, but one for which we have all been rewarded with a fantastic, one of a kind event.
The corporate festivals would never take a risk like this, desperately clinging to their tried and true formulas, terrified of even minor changes. Boomtown should never become complacent, boring, or afraid to challenge peoples perceptions. Because then it dies. Or even worse: gets sold off to the big firms. Or just gets plain boring.
Boomtown is a one of a kind revolutionary festival, that celebrates the alternative, and is putting sustainability at it’s heart…
Boomtown has quietly begun to revolutionise the festival industry, and has other organisers sitting up and taking note. Who else noticed the Glastonbury announcement just last week, with new immersive areas being introduced? Boomtown may have taken some initial inspiration from Shangri-La at Glastonbury, but now it seems we have gone full circle, with the student becoming the master. Boomtown is a challenger festival, and now the others need to keep up.
But Boomtown can’t just now rest on it’s laurels. It’s always been changing, growing, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. It would get boring if it just stuck to the formula, and stayed exactly the same. It’s an evolving journey. And we found out the next step in that journey when the name was announced for Boomtown Chapter 11: “A Radical City”.
The Respect Campaign, and the move to a sustainable, “radical city”, is a bold one. But for Boomtown to stop itself from becoming another “mainstream” clone fest, it needs to remain alternative, and do thing’s differently.
So it’s a good move for the festival to go meat free. But it’s also the right thing to do!
We live seemingly in times of chaos, where the global political elite seem unable, or unwilling to change the way things are. They think it’s not possible, or too difficult. So it’s only right for festivals like Boomtown to stand up, and show that things can be done differently.
It’s great that Boomtown wants to challenge the norm. And it shows that Boomtown really care about people, the planet, and not about profit. They stand up for what they believe in, and are not afraid if that’s unpopular, or controversial.
And this is not a case of “nanny state” before you go down that road. There are plenty of festivals serving up meat dishes, Boomtown included for 2019 at least. In fact the vast majority of festivals are still serving meat dishes last we counted. So you’ve got plenty of choice if you want to go elsewhere to get your meat fix. But is the type of food being served really a big enough turn off for a festival like Boomtown?
If you are against a nanny state, and people being told what to do, you should respect Boomtown’s right as an independent festival to make their own decision on this matter. If you don’t like it, you can vote with your wallet, and not attend in 2020.
My guess is though…. meat free or not, Boomtown will sell just as many tickets as it does now, and perhaps more. A step away from mainstream popular opinion should be celebrated as evidence that the festivals counter-culture spirit and ethos is still alive and well.
This is not an easy, or even sensible decision from a business stand point. But Boomtown believe it is the right one. They are really putting their neck out here and taking a massive and controversial risk for what they believe in. And I think that deserves some applause. It is after all a rarity in this day and age.
And it certainly has people talking and debating the matter already, which can only be a good thing.
Boomtown Chapter 11 and beyond: A Radical City
And besides… have you tried some of the vegetarian and vegan options at Boomtown? They are delicious, often better value, as well as filling and nutritious. Plant based food is actually shown to be excellent fuel, so can keep you going on a long sesh. Why not give it a try? These stalls were some of my favourite at Boomtown, even when I was still a meat eater.
It’s not all lentil soups, falafel and salads as some have suggested. In fact, festival food stalls have been responsible for amazing innovations in vegan and vegetarian fast food. When you have to cut out the meat and dairy from a recipe, you need to innovate. And that has resulted in a vegetarian fast food revolution. “Vegan Sushi Burrito”. I never even thought I’d see those 3 words together, yet it’s one of the most popular stalls at the festival and most people don’t even notice the difference. And it’s one of dozens of excellent, and imaginative options, that challenge your perception of what vegetarian food is actually like.
Tell me I’m wrong! (or right perhaps…)
Well, now you know what Source thinks. What do you think? Why am I wrong? I know the prospect of a meat free Boomtown is a hot topic, and a lot has been said already. Come at me and change my mind! I’m extremely receptive to different opinions and ideas. Comment on all the usual social media channels linked below…
Disclaimer: Source is in no way officially associated with Boomtown Festival, and became a vegan since 1/1/2019.