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Meet the Beckton man staging a vegan music festival

PUBLISHED: 10:00 22 April 2019

Eric Manangu is setting up his own vegan festival. Picture: Catherine Lough

Eric Manangu is setting up his own vegan festival. Picture: Catherine Lough

Archant

A Beckton man is planning the first vegan music festival of its kind, with meat-free street food and solar-panel staging.

Eric Manangu came up with the idea after his friend King Cookdaily, who runs trendy vegan food brand Cook Daily, introduced him to plant-based cooking.

He noticed that vegan restaurant customers would get up and recycle their plates and cutlery rather than creating litter, and enjoyed the food so much he came up with the idea for an environmentally conscious festival.

“I used to be that guy where I'd eat and throw things out the car, but I'm older now and a little bit wiser,” he said.

Having recently become vegan himself, he is organising VeeLyfe, the UK's first vegan music festival, featuring resident Radio 4 DJ – and vegan – Claira Hermet, as well as rising grime DJ Rachael Anson, who also happens to be Stormzy's sister.

Other acts include Gorgon City lead vocalist Josh Barry and DJ Melody Kane, who has appeared at the MOBO Awards, as well as being resident DJ for urban music network SBTV.

The festival will be held on Saturday, July 27 at Lee Valley White Water Centre and will feature a solar-panel stage, environmentally friendly toilets and biodegradable cups and food trays.

“People love festivals. People love food. The difference is – how can I make something that's environmentally friendly? So I thought, how about I make it a vegan festival?” Eric, 33, said.

Guests will be able to relax in the centre's beach volleyball court, where some of the attractions on offer include human-sized Jenga, as well as games organised by sports brand Gymbusy.

Eric hopes the festival will show people that veganism is a fun and positive choice.

“I want to show people that, actually, being vegan is cool, not because it's a trend but because it's cool to say you choose to live a plant-based lifestyle,” he said.

He also credits growing up in Newham, where he attended Brampton Manor School, as well as playing briefly for the under 17 England football squad, with his open-minded attitude towards the vegan community.

“I love Newham. Newham taught me so much - it gave me a multicultural community, so that when I went out into the world I was open-minded to different food and cultures – that's how I was able to embrace veganism.”

Eric has since worked in youth clubs and pupil referral inits – he now works in a school supporting children with their behaviour.

He hopes that if the festival is successful it can be an example to young people in the borough of what they can achieve.

“I want to show people what they can do with a pen and paper, not with a knife in someone's chest.”

Tickets for VeeLyfe are on sale for £20 at veelyfe.com

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