Close-Up “Meat-Eaters are Murderers”

Vegan Nikola Donev
Foto: Barbara Oertel

Bulgaria’s first officially registered vegan organisation advertises with sensational campaigns. Every two months, when the weather allows, dinner is served on Vitosha Boulevard in the centre of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia: On a table lies a human surrounded by vegetables. Artificial blood sticks to his bare skin. Bystanders “carve” the body with oversized knives and forks made of wood. “That’s the way we simulate how meat is prepared,” says Nikola Donev.

Eleven years ago, the surveying technician came to the realisation that it is not right to make clothing and food out of animals. Since then, he began – to the perplexity of his family – to gradually remove all animal products from his life.

After two years of work, a few months ago the 28-year-old officially registered his organisation, the Union of Bulgarian Vegans (BWS), the only group of its kind in the country. The inner core of the group consists of twenty like-minded people. There are now about 400 supporters. The number of vegans in Bulgaria, which has around 7 million inhabitants, is estimated at around 2,000.

The vegans, who also want to ban horse-riding among other things, don’t just preach. In November, the activists in Sofia tried to prevent the Meso-Mania, a trade fair for meat. When that failed, they protested with posters. Under photos of a newborn child and a piglet the inscription read: “Legal murder of a baby!”

But these demonstrations in a country with a traditionally very meat-centred cuisine do not meet with approval from everyone. “Many people are really angry at us. And only because we are telling the truth. And that truth is if a person eats meat, he’s a murderer,” says Donev. But there is also a growing number of Bulgarians who are curious and have begun to get excited about vegan life.

For Donev, the fact that it is no longer taboo in Bulgaria to say that eating meat is murder is the biggest success of his movement. And the topic of veganism continues to draw wider circles. But that’s not enough for him. “Our dream is to veganise the world so animals can live freely,” he says.

One step on the way there is the founding of a political party that would also compete in elections. “We need a party so we can have a bigger impact on society,” says Donev. In two to three years at the latest, they may be ready.