Our friends at the Anarchist Teapot taught us all  we know about feeding hundred, or even thousands, in the fields. Much of their wisdom is in our guide to catering for camps, gatherings and conferences.

Their booklet Feeding The Masses includes a history & description of Veggies Catering Campaign. The version below was revised for the 2024 edition.

Veggies Catering Campaign (Nottingham)

Veggies was started in 1984 by members of the local animal rights group involved in campaigning at McDonalds and wishing to make vegan food readily accessible. They started with a mobile van parked outside the Pork Farms factory, then applied for a street trading permit to set up a catering trailer 6 days a week on a city centre market.

In June 2001 with the opening of a new base at the Sumac Centre, an autonomous community resource centre, cafe and social club, Veggies gave up its daily street stall to concentrate on event catering, from table-top scale catering at protests and buffets for local community groups meetings, to catering stalls at major events including Green Gatherings and Glastonbury Green Futures Field.

This change of emphasis also enabled Veggies to provide more full weekend catering to campaign gatherings, whether hosted at the Sumac Centre or elsewhere, including Radical Routes, Climate Camps, Earth First and Animal Rights gatherings, using Anarchist Teapot’s field kitchen, now inherited by Veggies. A number of gazebos are used to provide pay as-you-go catering at festivals, fairs and national demos. Gas burners and cook pots are available to provide field kitchens and catering for gatherings for up to 300 people. Buffets for 10–100 people are prepared in the self contained basement kitchen at the Sumac Centre.

For protest events pasties, cakes and drinks are provided from a table top or bike trailer, or simply boxes of ‘Samosas For Social Change’ on the run. Payment is often by donation on a d-i-y self-serve basis. For more established events or pre-arranged demo locations home-made Veggies Burgers, hot drinks and other fair-trade snacks are added. For gatherings meals include curries, tabbouleh, vegetable soups, ratatouille, vegetable stews etc with rice, cous-cous, pasta etc and fresh salads, breads and spreads. Subject to travel, numbers etc the cost for a full week-end may be around £20-£30.

Festivals, fairs and commercial buffets raise the funds to subsidise campaign catering, to help with the Sumac Centre’s mortgage, finance the library/bookstall and provide other campaign resources. Although losses may occur, for example if a protest does not go to plan, other events tends to raise sufficient to cover running costs. However funds are usually at a minimum before the ‘summer season’ begins.

Some worker-members job-sharing a Living Wage to look after day-to-day organisation, doing associated campaign activities in their ‘spare time’. Members with cookery skills prepare recipes and arrange menus. Others do education and media work, and give other technical backup. Local volunteers assist with many local campaign events and a nationwide network of volunteers is on call for events further afield.

A freezer service was closed as a response to the climate emergency, but ambient dry mixes are supplied to other caterers and by mail order and a ‘community food hubcommunity food hub’ shares organic wholefoods at discount prices.

With local buffets, club nights and in-house events at the Sumac Centre, Veggies is usually busy throughout the year; during the summer up to three major events may occur each weekend.

Publicity for events supported by Veggies is provided on the detailed diary and linked archive at https://www.veggies.org.uk/events/. Although originally ‘caterers to animal rights movement’, Veggies now works with a wide range of groups and campaigns for social justice, environmental protection, human rights and peace issues.

Contact: 245 Gladstone Street, Nottingham NG7 6HX

Phone : 07870 861837


The full booklet Feeding the Masses is highly recommended. View it here.

It also includes the story of the part that we played in feeding 10,000 people at the 2005 G8 protest/action camp.


So, the G8 met in July 2005 in Scotland. The Dissent! mobilisation against it began two years earlier, and it soon became clear that the best way we could contribute was to start thinking about making sure people would get fed. Being two catering groups based within the movement, Veggies and the Anarchist Teapot formed a catering working group and slowly started compiling information, and reaching out to find other mobile kitchens to help cook for the expected 10 000 or whatever random number was being bandied about.

There were ideas of having various convergence centres over the South of Scotland – in Glasgow and Edinburgh, then also a large rural site that would be the main focus for the blockades planned at the start of the summit. We decided we would also mainly focus on the rural site, because people would be much more dependent on kitchens there than in the middle of a city. Another idea that emerged for the rural convergence site was that it would be divided into ‘barrios’ i.e. neighbourhoods, that would be based around affinity, social centres or geography and would be having their own meetings, as well as their own kitchens. Kitchens both from the UK and abroad started committing themselves to come, as well as other groups who said they would be setting up a kitchen for a neighbourhood they were planning (including some people who only came forward when the site was actually set up, which demanded a lot of flexibility on our part – but it worked out fine…)

Thankfully, a London based kitchen, Kaos Café, took on the catering at Glasgow, and the Brighton based Café Clandestino who had previously mostly catered at festies but were up for being involved in this mobilisation came forward and took on Edinburgh. This turned out to be difficult and unpredictable to plan for, due to the hassle of finding an autonomous convergence space in Edinburgh in which people could sleep and be fed in. The Teapot decided we would split our kitchen and come help in Edinburgh for a couple of days around the 2nd and 3rd July, but ended up only going for the one day, helping Café Clandestino at the council’s official campsite in which Dissent! had a space in the end.

An email group was set up to discuss the state of things and sort out decisions between all the kitchens involved, such as whether we should charge for food or ask for donations, who’d be arriving when etc. I reckon it worked okay, though I’m sure everyone got bored of the massive ‘update emails’ the Teapot sent out every few weeks… just thought everyone should know everything going on… got a bit long at times. The main decisions made that were told to everyone joining in later were: all cooked food would be vegan (though non vegan donations received would be put out for people to take), we would charge for food, 50p for breakfast, £1 for a simple meal and £1.50 for a fuller meal, while not turning away anyone who couldn’t afford this, and we would all be putting up money where we could and pooling all takings, and problems with losses or what to do with any potential surplus would be discussed on site before everyone left and shared out as fairly as possible (without anyone making private profit – this was pretty much assumed anyway).

Someone told of how a number of kitchens cooked at the mobilisation in Evian, and that there was a big marquee that acted as a central food storage to which all deliveries came and all donations were brought. We thought that sounded like a good idea for the rural site – if every kitchen were ordering food or sorting supplies for themselves there could be a lot of waste, and combining the efforts sounded much more sensible. The Teapot took on sorting this central food store and ordering in supplies, which turned out to be a bit of a scary task. It involved looking at finances going into the tens of thousands, guessing numbers coming to site as anything between 500 and 6000, and trying to find suppliers that were willing to cope with potential police hassle, potential orders changed at the last minute, and getting us 1000kg of potatoes…

The money thing was especially frightening. On a scale like this, you can’t rely on donations or what you can skip, and you also need money for travel (we definitely wanted to help the kitchens coming from abroad with this), gas, equipment… So after a lot of juggling figures we came up with needing about £12000 upfront for all the initial orders and supplies – even after breaking down orders to as many deliveries we could, and getting a few things like tea and coffee on credit — but we actually managed to raise this by borrowing money from lots of different kitchens and some other campaign groups. We didn’t have to tap into other parts of the Dissent! mobilisation at all, and managed to pay everyone back at the end – hurra!

I was really happy with the suppliers we ended up with. A local farmer got us staple veg like potatoes (which he told me was all they ever eat in Scotland), onions, and these terrifying gigantic carrots, and an organic distributor got us things like salad vegetables and cabbages. Both of them were friendly, amused by trying to get around the police, gave us good discounts and some free extras, and were genuinely interested in what was going on. We ordered wholefoods like dried beans, margarine etc from Green City in Glasgow, who brought 3 deliveries altogether and were really supportive. When you’re in a position of having to spend such large amounts of cash, it’s much nicer to give the large amounts of cash to people who aren’t complete wankers.

One thing that made the ordering difficult was the fact that the site was opening on Friday the 1st July, and that meant any orders for the Monday, to cover feeding people Monday – Wednesday, had to be placed before the Friday. So, we placed the orders without having any idea how many people would be turning up, or what exactly other kitchens would be cooking with, though we’d asked for order lists a number of times beforehand. (Also, not knowing that we would be getting tons and tons of muesli donated — we literally had a muesli mountain about 10 times the size of me in the end). Unfortunately, we had to cut down on our Monday deliveries with very short notice, including a lot of the veg, which caused problems for the veg suppliers, but we couldn’t really do much about that.

Finding bread had been a big ordeal. We weren’t fussed about getting organic bread, but we found that, apparently, just normal, properly baked bread isn’t very popular in Scotland, they all eat Sunblest and Mothers Pride… About a day before we left, we had finally found a couple of bakeries that seemed to be able to cover our needs – who actually baked bread, with flour, and no chemicals, and could cope with up to 700 loaves a day – again, we had to revise the orders on site. And the first few days, we had a giant bread mountain and people got bread with everything. We even made a bread spreads – to put on bread!

As it happened, the rural site wasn’t that rural. In fact, it was next to a Morrisons superstore. It wasn’t ideal in a lot of ways but there we were. There were a large number of kitchens, mostly able to cater for 100–300+ people in a neighbourhood: the Belgian Kokkerelen collective; an Irish kitchen combining Bitchen Kitchen and Certain Death Vegan Café; the Scottish Healands kitchen who were already on site when we arrived who we hadn’t heard from beforehand; kitchens from the social centres in Bradford (1in12) and Leeds (Common Place, with some Sheffield people too); Veggies from Nottingham; Why don’t you from Newcastle; a kitchen from Lancaster with lots of Danish people for some reason; a Bristol kitchen; a kitchen from Oxford; a kitchen in the Queer Barrio; and Purple Penguin from up North who came and baked all day, making lovely vegan cakes and pastries. The Anarchist Teapot teamed up with Rampenplan to form a huge kitchen (Rampenpot, or the Anarchist Plan) to cater for the neighbourhood-less masses, any overspill from neighbourhoods, as well as the separate People and Planet area. This wasn’t something we had intended – P+P were insistent on having their own area, and as far as we were concerned we thought they were then also sorting out their own catering. Quite late in the day we heard they didn’t have a kitchen – thankfully, it worked out okay because there were less people than there could’ve been, meaning we could feed an extra 400 without any problems, on top of the 1000 plus we were feeding as well.

Our kitchen really was huge – we had a row of 9 giant pans, one of which held 350 litres and when I tried to wash it up I would disappear inside it. We also had the central food store at the back of our marquee. Once on site, we decided to have a kitchen delegates meeting every morning after breakfast, to figure out how it’s going, who’s cooking lunch and whether every kitchen needed to cook everyday, etc. The other kitchens also would come and pick up ingredients and gas from the store; we also all lent various bits and pieces to each other throughout. It took a few days for all of us to find our feet – some of the kitchens that came hadn’t had much experience with mass catering in a field, everyone needed to be set up with what they needed, lots of gas splitters were installed and ditches dug and water needed to be connected up, etc, etc… Everyone seemed to get the hang of it pretty quickly though, and soon we had fantastic food all over the site available at different times (with the Healands kitchen often going all night!). I had been worried we would be too dominant with our huge kitchen and food store, and we would be the ‘experts’ on site, and in some cases I suppose we were, but generally, each kitchen developed its own individual way of doing things and it felt varied and decentralised. As a registered food business with insurance and everything, Veggies had taken on dealing with the local authorities. As a legal site in constant negotiation with the local council, this was an aspect we couldn’t ignore. The food hygiene inspection happened fairly early on, and went okay (phew!), with us sat there in a very clean marquee in our aprons waiting for them…

The finances were daunting at first — £15000 spent on food and rising, only £7000 taken over the weekend to pay for it… — but then there was some huge influx of people around the Tuesday, the 5th, the day before the mass blockades, and we all found ourselves cooking and cooking, and getting a lot of the money back… In fact, the Rampenpot made soup three times during the night, as well as gallons of coffee. We still had a lot of bread, so all the kitchens put it out with spreads, as well as nuts, seeds, raisins, bits of fruit or whatever else was there, and little bags for people to make themselves packed lunches to take away with them, seeing as lots of people were off to spend the night in the woods to do actions in the morning. All of this went incredibly fast. People were putting vegan mayo and nowt else on their sandwiches when the other spreads ran out…

As it happened, thousands of people went out, did a whole range of generally successful blockades early in the morning, came back to the site where the kitchens were waiting for them with hot food, and loads of people went straight back out again and on to Gleneagles… basically, cool actions happened, we fed them, and it was good.

After the Wednesday, the police decided they needed to control our movement much more and surrounded the site. This led to a feeling of a state of siege, people started drifting off, and it also led to some comedy attempts to get deliveries of food supplies passed through police lines.

Another thing that started happening around then was that people got ill… Not surprising considering the numbers of people on site and also not surprising that kitchens got blamed for this. The actual reason was the general hygiene, almost certainly overloaded portaloos and a lack of handwashing facilities (a lovely process otherwise known as faecal-oral transmission!) The kitchens were probably the one place people did wash their hands before handling food. Containing the Faecal Oral Transmission (or Dissent!ry) became pretty important so we set up extra handwashes outside each kitchen, and since the kitchens were a place it still could spread further we also changed the washing up system so that it was one or two people doing everyone’s washing up, and we pre-sliced bread we served instead of letting everyone handle the loaves to cut it themselves. The lesson here was definitely that kitchens should feel responsible for general hygiene of a site and not just the hygiene in the kitchen, because if it goes wrong, you’ll get the blame! The council supplied a whole bunch of alcohol based water free antibacterial handwash. The only thing is though that that stuff doesn’t work when exposed to the hot sun. Anyway, we all survived…

Towards the Friday, there definitely was a feeling of activists leaving and idiots with soundsystems replacing them. That wasn’t what we’d come to cook for, and in the kitchen meeting most kitchens seemed to be preparing to leave. After a lot of calculations, paying people back and taking tons of change to the bank in a wheelbarrow, we found out we’d made a surplus of about £5000! It was decided that this should go to other parts of the Dissent! mobilisation and the bulk of it to prisoner support, as well as not letting any kitchen be out of pocket. Mugs, plates and bowls that had strayed were taken back to the kitchens they came from, leftovers divvied up… Then it was time to go home…

The people trying to leave the country with the Dutch kitchen equipment got interrogated under the Terrorism Act for ages on the border—with cops asking questions about how food was organised… They went through everything, including individually searching through 1500 stacked cups! They eventually were left to get on the ferry.

From what we heard, the food was appreciated, and the kitchens were a part of all the infrastructure created for the mobilisation that worked well. And one thing that we can already say that came out of it is that we now have a lot more action kitchens in the UK who have the ability and the experience to cook for actions, gathering, and camps.