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Interview with Jen Perry on The Cruelty Free Festival Perth

The Perth Cruelty Free Festival takes place early this year on March 1 from 10 AM until 4 PM at Princess May Park, Fremantle (where I was born!)

I spoke with Jen Perry who one of the organisers and Secretary for Animal Rights Advocates Inc. - the group organising this all-vegan, abolitionist festival in Western Australia.

Cruelty_Free_Festival_WA

What is the Perth Cruelty Free Festival about?
What I really love about this festival, is the real effort we've made to make the connections between all forms of oppression. This isn't just a vegan festival. It's about the inherent understanding that human rights, animal rights, environmental rights - these are all interrelated and connected. We are also an entirely abolitionist event. You won't see any mention of free range eggs, humane myth or promotion of the Stop Live Exports campaign. We believe in animal rights, not welfare.

How does it differ from the Sydney event?
I've personally never been to the Sydney event, but a cursory look on their website tells me that the Sydney festival has more a welfare focus that ours does. Other than that, we're both out there trying to educate the public and get people to go vegan.

You’ve been going for a few years now, is it getting harder or easier?
You would think it has gotten easier! But in a lot of ways, it hasn't. One of the trials and tribulations of a volunteer organisation like ARA is that we're all incredibly busy people with varying life circumstances which affect the amount of time we are able to commit. Last year, I was overseas and had nothing to do with festival organisation. This year, I've jumped in head first, going vaguely off what I remember from organising the fest in 2011. Hopefully with this year's stringent bookkeeping, things will be easier for our next festival - which might be as soon as November of this year.

What do you hope to achieve with the 2014 event?
I hope that people involved in all the social justice/rights movements in Perth will come together and think twice about what's on their dinner plates. Beyond this, my not so secret goal is for everyone to become a bit more intersectional in their thinking. To help an individual make the connection that feminism and speciesism are intrinsically linked, is a very gratifying experience. One of the greatest rewards of hosting the festival is having people come up to you afterwards and explain how their perceptions of veganism have changed and they're considering taking the first step towards a truly cruelty free lifestyle. That's a great feeling.
Jen__Nadia_of_CFF_PerthJen and Nadia

What part does ARA have in the festival?
Animal Rights Advocates organises and hosts the festival. This year myself and my colleague Nadia have done the primary organising. There have been countless people behind the scenes who have already spent a great deal of time getting this up and running. And we're eternally grateful!

What’s the vegan scene like in Perth?
It's growing! I'm not going to sugar coat it - we're no Melbourne, but we're certainly coming up in the world. Raw food is particularly booming at the moment. Local restaurants are gradually coming on board and ARA's separate website (www.veganperth.org.au) has a list of all the vegan cafes/restaurants in Perth that offer vegan options. We can hardly keep on top of it all!

What are your top 5 vegan restaurants?
I'm going to have to go a bit global on you, being as I'm originally from the United States. The best meal I've ever had in NYC is from Dirt Candy, which happened entirely by accident. An unassuming little hole in the wall on the Lower East Side, this place takes ingredients and bases dishes around them - not the other way around. It's the type of food that non-vegans will drop their mouths for. I recently went to Adelaide and discovered Bliss Organic Café. Had the best vegan BLT ever. In Perth, for those extra special occasions, Restaurant Amusé does the best vegan degustation I've ever had. Something like 10 mouth-watering courses are in the mix. Simply divine! My favourite all-vegan place in Perth is Loving Hut. Most Saturdays my partner and I drive a short distance to their Vic Park cafe, load up on pies and noodles and waddle home content. It's comfort food at its finest. For innovative nut cheeses, mushroom burgers and raw nachos I go to CNR Café in Northbridge. I also can't go past the almond milk smoothies.

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