Amsterdam festival startled by controversy about vegetarian meals

Milkshake festival Amsterdam
Milkshake festival Amsterdam. (Photo: Milkshake festival Amsterdam / Facebook)

Festival Milkshake will only be selling vegetarian food at its seventh edition on July 28th and 29th in Amsterdam, the organizers announced over the weekend. The decision was met with some strong reactions. "We are really surprised about that", organizer Marieke Samallo said to RTL Nieuws.

"We didn't invent the simple solution", Samallo said. "The Digital Festival in Amsterdam hasn't served meat in three years. We are now also taking our responsibility."

While the response to Milkshake's decision not to sell meat at the next festival was mainly positive, there were some fierce critics as well. For example, a VVD member of the district committee for Amsterdam Centrum complained that Milkshake is reducing the "individual freedom of choice" in the Dutch capital. "I do not want to be forced by this organization to eat vegetarian food", he said, according to the broadcaster. 

Twitter users pointed out to him and other critics that they don't have to go to Milkshake, that eating no meat for a day won't turn them into vegetarians, and that the organization is free to choose what kind of food they serve. 

Milkshake is a festival that stands for inclusiveness, love and a better world, Samallo said to RTL. "We conducted a public survey which showed that the large majority of visitors applaud this. You have to calculate how many liters of water the making of a hamburger costs. And the number of food trucks at the festival that sold meat was already very limited."

The festival is also taking a number of other measures to make Milkshake more sustainable. Only card payments will be allowed, all cutlery, plates and napkins will be biodegradable, and the toilets will be more environmentally friendly.