Kiwi actor Thomasin McKenzie, comedian Tom Sainsbury, All Black TJ Pereana, entertainer Miss Geena, musician Tom Bailey, fire fighter Maaka Mc Kinnie, soldier Apollo Taito, businesswoman Alice Shopland, racing driver Jono Lester, MP Chloe Swarbrick and the ex-Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.
What do they all have in common? Answer: They are all vegan and we are challenging all Kiwis to join them and give going vegan a try this World Vegan Month. There has never been a better time than now, with the world’s leaders currently attending COP talks to advocate for the world we live in. We even challenged the Prime Minister to try vegan to help fight the climate crisis.
People of all ages, race, gender, sexuality, political viewpoint or religion are choosing veganism. The most recent estimate is 14% of the world's population are vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian. People are choosing to eschew meat and dairy as they see improvements to their health, to improve their athletic performance, for a more sustainable future for their children, to lower their impact on global resources, because they have compassion for all animals and they wish to be part of a brave new future for humanity.
The current COP26 climate talks in Glasgow are vital to ensure world leaders, businesses, corporations and individuals can all work together to combat the damage done by our use of fossil fuels. With emissions still rising, the need to act fast is paramount. Changing what is eaten is a much easier solution than any others currently out there. By switching to a plant-based diet, it is possible to reduce emissions due to food by up to 75%. Animal agriculture is a leading cause of climate change, and the emissions from meat production alone is 60% of all food production emissions. New Zealand's emissions are still rising and we are unlikely to meet our Paris Agreement unless we change what we are currently doing.
There is more than enough land and water to feed 10 billion people on a plant-based diet unlike raising 80 billion animals, which is not sustainable for our planet, there is simply not enough land and water to supply 8 billion people with meat and dairy. Much of the current infertile and poor land could be rewilded and used for carbon sequestration. The animals produce a lot of methane, a more dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but as it is one that is short-lived, humanity can quickly combat emissions by reducing methane, if action is taken now.
As the world continues to battle with Covid, the circumstances that produced it are still inherent in the animal food system. Without changes to reduce overcrowding of animals, the likelihood of another pandemic remains. Reducing the demand for animal products will mean less animals bred into captive existence. Eating a whole food plant-based diet is key to improving the immune system's ability to fight disease, something that could make a difference to survival rates and severity of infection.
Every day more people are making the commitment to eating less animal products, It is easy to find alternative proteins in the supermarkets, and growing your own is always an option too. Supermarkets report a 33% increase in demand for plant-based products, giving New Zealand farmers a very real reason to diversify.
“My aim initially was to help make vegan food mainstream. That has definitely happened, so now I have my sights set on helping to reduce Aotearoa’s dependence on animal agriculture.” said Alice Shopland of Angel Food, “If Aotearoa doesn’t pivot to focusing on plant-based foods we will be left behind as other countries are investing huge resources into alternative proteins, and the food industry landscape is changing very rapidly.”
Covid has shown New Zealand that the more self-sufficient we can be as a country, the stronger and healthier we will be as a nation. Want to give it a go? Try the 21 Day Easy Vegan Challenge at www.tryvegan.org.nz
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Published 3 December 2021