The Calais Vegan Festival has been popular in its two previous years. Photo: Calais Vegan Festival/Facebook
The Calais mayor's office said it was compelled to cancel the event, originally scheduled for September 8, to “guarantee public safety” and to protect organisers and visitors from a potential “risk of an outbreak”.
It said authorities had become aware of a “series of operations aimed at stirring up trouble and disrupting public order”, adding that the decision was not related to the theme of the event.
On their Facebook page, organisers said the mayor had made the decision “because the hunters and farmers have joined forces to make very clear threats about what would happen if the event went ahead”.
Veganism and vegetarianism are gaining in popularity in France, where non-meat food options were once difficult to find on restaurant menus, while animal rights activism is increasingly visible in the media.
French butchers wrote to the interior minister in June asking for protection against violence and intimidation from vegan campaigners who “want to impose their lifestyle on the immense majority of people”.
Several butchers shops were vandalised and sprayed with fake blood in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France in April, while the CFBCT butchers' confederation said there were also precedents in the southern Occitanie region.
In March this year, a vegan cheesemaker was prosecuted over a Facebook message about a supermarket butcher who was killed in a terror attack.
“You are shocked that a murderer is killed by a terrorist,” wrote the animal rights activist, named as Myriam by media. “Not me. I've got zero compassion for him, there's justice in it.”
Faced with declining meat sales, farmers' groups have effectively lobbied the centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron in recent weeks to prevent measures seen as anti-meat.
A proposal to require schools to introduce a vegetarian meal at least once a week was dropped in parliament, while food producers have also battled to ban the use of “steak”, “fillet”, “bacon” or “sausage” for non-meat products.