– An ‘approachable vegan group where everyone is welcome’ Thomas Micklewright.
– ‘Confident that veganism is a growing trend in London (and beyond)’
– ’People are waking up to healthy and environmentally friendly eating’
You’d imagine there would be a fair few vegans in London, and there are plenty of opportunities to meet up with them at social events if you live in central London. But what about further out into the suburbs?
At Vegfest in October we met Thomas Micklewright, the founder of London Vegan Societies (LVS), a rapidly growing organisation that brings together vegans from all thirty-two London boroughs. He was kind enough to tell us more about himself and how LVS began…
Five years ago Thomas was shocked to see Jamie Oliver gas baby chicks on television, and the experience prompted him to turn vegan: ‘I did it for the environment, animal welfare and my health’, says Thomas.
It didn’t take long before Thomas wanted to find other people in London who shared his views on animal-cruelty. So, in October 2010 he found a way to do this – he started the Dulwich Vegan and Veggie Society. The society started to hold monthly meetings, campaigned locally to get more places to serve vegan food, and to stop them serving foie gras. In 2012 he created three more societies: Brixton, Crystal Palace and Clapham, as well as Lewisham with David Gore. In fact, Thomas thought that there should be a London vegan society for every London borough, and so, early in 2013 he created London Vegan Societies (LVS).
Now, LVS is a collection of 32 societies that believe ‘local is best’. There are on average 250,000 people living in each borough and Thomas believes ‘focusing on the areas we live and work in brings the quickest and easiest change’. He feels if we all play our local part, the world will be changed for the better.
The LVS aims are simple:
1) bring people together to enjoy food and make new friends at monthly meetings
2) encourage London businesses and organisations, to serve/sell more vegan food
3) create a #LondonMeatFreeMonday (with 100,000 Londoners taking part by 2015) supported by the government and the general population of London.
We also asked Thomas how vegan-friendly LVS think London is compared to other world cities. ‘London is the easiest place in the country (apart from Brighton) to find vegan food’. Compared to other cities ‘I would say London is doing very well – although does lack the vegan bakeries of New York or the vegan supermarkets of Berlin’. Not for long we told him, Veganz is coming!
LVS agrees with us that the media gives mixed signals about veganism in the UK, sometimes supporting, sometimes ridiculing. ‘There seems to be waves of support by newspapers like the Guardian, but many others just attack veganism for being ‘extreme’’. LVS aims to help change that perception – Thomas says: ‘when I created the LVS I wanted to be very clear that it was open to everyone, vegans, veggies, meat-reducers and meat-eaters alike. We have a number of meat eaters who come along to the meetings and we are always getting requests for information – so I hope I have achieved my aim of creating an approachable group!’
LVS feels confident that veganism is a growing trend in London (and beyond), and that it will only get more popular. ‘Places like Just Falafel, which has opened up a number of stores in London this year, are testimony to the fact that people are waking up to healthy and environmentally friendly eating’. LVS hopes to see a massive jump in the number of people trying meat free days – and that’s why they are aiming for 100,000 Londoners taking part in #LondonMeatFreeMonday by 2015!
LVS have big plans for the future too – Thomas aims to find all the vegans and vegetarians in London and get them involved in their local society. We’re not the only ones that recognize the hard work that LVS are doing to support veganism and animal welfare in London. They accepted an award on behalf of London from Lady Victoria Bowick, the Deputy Mayoress of London at Vegfest UK in October 2013 (you can see Thomas with the award above). Thomas said he ”was honoured to collect the award for ‘Best Veggie and Vegan City’ on behalf of London. Now the award sits in City Hall to show Boris Johnson London Vegan Societies are here, I hope it will highlight to the London Assembly that vegan diets are the way to achieve their carbon cutting and sustainability goals – and encourage them to try a #LondonMeatFreeMonday!”
If you want to find out more about The LVS and get involved:
• Drop Thomas an email on firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to your local borough mailing list
• Call/text him on 07789 322920
• Find LVS on Facebook or Twitter
• To find your local society go to www.londonvegansocieties.com/societies
LVS are a big supporter of our BIG COUNT survey too, they like the idea so much they’ve dedicated a whole page of their website to us! Thanks Thomas, and keep up the hard work.