The ‘Nup to the Cup’ Movement is no longer just a trend. It’s a groundswell movement sweeping Australia. Why not join it?

Sydney vegan restaurant, Bodhi was one of Australia’s first restaurants to say ‘Nup to the Cup’, holding an annual lunch that eschewed the national horse race and instead raised money for animal welfare. Bodhi owner Heaven Leigh was this week quoted in Fairfax Media stating: “values around animal welfare are far more important than money.”

As our regular readers will know, Bodhi is a go-to favourite for The Vegan Company and was instrumental in helping many of our friends and followers transition to a more compassionate lifestyle, so we fully support them in all they do, particularly this initiative.

The Melbourne Cup – Sport or Suffering?

Horse racing and Spring Carnival is nothing new. Society has long loved the celebrations around dressing up, downing a glass of bubbles or three and having a bit of a flutter. It all seems so harmless, right? Wrong, as the recent Four Corner’s expose on the industry clearly proved.

Racing horse breeders, trainers and owners will tell you ‘til they’re blue in the face that their horses are well loved, cared for and treated like royalty, and in some cases, that may well be true.

However, says, Elio Celotto, Campaign Director for the Coalition for the Protection for Racehorses (CPR), “they’re also over-bred, involuntarily impregnated and many, if not most, breeding mares are kept pregnant their entire lives.

Those that make the ‘racing grade’ are kept in tiny stalls for hours on end, unable to turn around, to keep them edgy and uptight in order to encourage them to run faster. When ready to race, their tongues are frequently tied down to better control the horse, they are whipped on the course, despite the industry swearing that they love to run, and in many cases where dodgy operators are involved, drugged to enhance performance.”

But this story isn’t about re-telling the torture of these magnificent beasts – you can click the link above for more information on that. This story is about how you can help turn the ‘First Tuesday in November’ into something beautiful, fabulous and animal-friendly.

Saying ‘Nup to the Cup’

Elio Celotto launched the Coalition for the Protection of Horse Racing’s first Nup to the Cup lunch in 2011. He recalls it was a torrentially rainy day in Flemington. He and his mates enjoyed a vegan barbecue through chattering teeth under a three by three metre marquee.

We aren’t trying to ruin anyone’s fun,” he says sincerely. “We simply want to turn Melbourne Cup Day on its head. It can still be a really fun day, just without the animal cruelty.

That first year when we started, we had just a handful of really happy people. Last year, we hosted 300. This year, we are expecting it to be pretty big. With Facebook RSVP’s hitting over 1000.

I’m a little worried,” he adds with a laugh. “The Four Corners program has really shone a light on our cause, and we may get a great deal more attendees than anticipated. Everyone is welcome though and we will do our best to cater for all.

How You Can Help

Since CPR launched its lunch in 2011, ‘Nup to the Cup’ events have sprung up all around Australia, with most donating much needed funds to racehorse rescue groups around the country.

We are asking people to hold their own ‘Nup to Cup’ event,” says Elio, “and that is happening all around Australia! We suggest to people that instead of having a flutter, why not donate to help out rescue racehorses, or even another animal charity that means a lot to them. Let it be a day where we can celebrate and honour beautiful animals and really do something positive to help them.”

Where to Celebrate

There are so many incredible lunches being held all around Australia. The Vegan Company’s Vegan’s faves include Bodhi Restaurant’s Nup to the Cup in Sydney, as well as Nup to the Cup at Yellow, also in in Sydney.

In Melbourne, a few fun events include CPRs Fashuns on the Field in Flemington, Melbourne, Melbourne Vegan Tours Nup to the Cup Yoga and Lunch and the Glenrowan: Nup To The Cup Picnic at Free Spirits Farm Sanctuary in North East Victoria.

Over in Adelaide, there’s the gorgeous Canine Cup, where Guardian Angel Animal Rescue will be screening an exclusive ‘race’ on their Facebook Page, just before the Melbourne Cup horse race runs. The group is encouraging any Nup to the Cup events to screen their races instead, make an afternoon tea/luncheon out of it and raise funds for an animal shelter close to their heart. The ‘races’ are simply dogs running from one owner to the other (if they want to). It is the cutest thing you’ll see and completely cruelty free!

For more ‘Nup to the Cup events and charities to donate to, visit:


Photo by Renato Abati from Pexels

About the Author


After 30 years of working in Australian media, Shonagh is one of Australia’s busiest and most in-demand beauty, health, travel and lifestyle writers.

As a health and lifestyle journalist and consultant, Shonagh has worked closely with international wellness experts and icons, including Dr. Sandra Cabot, Therese Kerr and Miranda Kerr.

In other aspects of her work, she has travelled the world reviewing wellness retreats and luxe holiday destinations, and she has interviewed and written feature articles on some of the world’s best love celebrities, including Sting, Elle McPherson, Pamela Anderson, Simon Baker, Kylie Minogue, Gwen Stefani, Tina Arena, Heather Graham and many more.

She currently lives in the NSW Southern Highlands with her four dogs (three Siberian Huskies and one Maltese Cross), where she grows her own veggies and advocates ending Factory Farming and animal cruelty.

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