Date: 31 Oct 2019
Author: The Vegan Society Aotearoa
In an unprecedented world first, four vegan societies are challenging their Prime Ministers to try a vegan challenge for a month. As part of our commitment to a vegan world, the Vegan Society Aotearoa has teamed up with other members of the Vegan World Alliance to collectively challenge their leaders.
Here in New Zealand, Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern and her cabinet have been issued the overture to go vegan for World Vegan Day. It is urgent that world leaders commit to a low carbon lifestyle, encouraging their cabinet and members of the public to reduce their animal product intake, ideally to zero. With world resources stretched to beyond their limits, we have to start living within our planetary resources as soon as possible. Going vegan is a great start to this.
For your health, for the future generations, for the sake of the environment and of course, to prevent the needless suffering of animals, we are calling on all people to try vegan. Feel free to pen a similar request to your local MP. There is one leader in NZ parliament on this issue, and that is Gareth Hughes, the longest standing Green MP in parliament.
With a plethora of vegan foods readily available in supermarkets and most cafes and restaurants offering vegan options, then is no reason for anyone to not be plant-based. Lack of supply is no longer an issue. Neither is lack of taste! We have already presented Jacinda with vegan cheese, for FebNoDairy, which she apparently enjoyed, along with others in the office.
Take the Month-long Challenge to Help Climate Crisis
Dear Prime Minister,
The world is in climate crisis, our young people fear for their future, now more than ever we need strong leadership from our heads of government.
With that in mind, the Vegan Society Aotearoa New Zealand, part of the Vegan World Alliance, calls upon you to join other world leaders in shifting to a plant-based diet, starting on November 1st, World Vegan Day. By doing so, you will send a strong message by acting with conviction and taking the necessary steps to avoid a climate catastrophe, something we are extremely close to experiencing.
There are a number of factors causing our atmosphere to become carbon saturated and act like a giant greenhouse: fossil fuels, deforestation, acidification of the oceans, animal agriculture. There are many things that need to be done to tackle climate change, for example, government legislation to hold corporations accountable for their emissions.
Unfortunately, our lifestyle and economy have increasingly become reliant on animal agriculture, which is a major offender. However, the fact remains that according to innumerable reports the global population must drastically reduce their dependence on animal agriculture if we want a sustainable planet for the future. That’s individual accountability, and it’s not only a solution that everyone can easily incorporate, it’s a necessity.
The reality is that ruminant animals produce a lot of methane during their digestion processes, and our planet is out of balance with ruminant animals being bred in excessive numbers. This is driving our methane emissions higher, and methane is the greenhouse gas we most need to take effective action against.
Methane is a short-acting greenhouse gas, unlike carbon dioxide—the effects of which we are currently witnessing, came from what we put in the atmosphere 30 years ago. We have been pumping more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since then! Our need to ACT is absolute and dire!
Limited World Resources
The world can feed more people without animal agriculture. The United Nations has stated that.
“Land-use change has had the largest relative negative impact on nature since 1970, followed by the direct exploitation, in particular overexploitation, of animals, plants and other organisms mainly via harvesting, logging, hunting and fishing. In marine ecosystems, direct exploitation of organisms (mainly fishing) has had the largest relative impact, followed by land/sea-use change.”
We have to stop squandering precious resources such as arable land and water on producing animals. The quicker we can adapt to changing our diet on a global level, the quicker we can address this climate emergency.
Veganism is a worldwide growing movement and more people are turning to it as they see the need to reduce our resource use. It takes far too much land to produce animals as food for humans, to the extent that human actions threaten more species with global extinction now more than ever before.
The world is a beautiful ecosystem that relies upon balance to keep it working in a manner that is safe for life. We have destroyed that balance, and we are doing very little to address the imbalance. We need those wild spaces, we need to reforest, we need to stop polluting, we need to stop using fossil fuels.
But there is one simple act each person can take right now. It requires no special training or legislation, only a will to do it: Change what we eat.
Time is of the essence, we have a very short time frame to initiate lasting changes that will enable us to turn this crisis around. We have to plant more trees and grow more plants in general. We have to stop cutting down the remaining trees and we have to reduce our resource use so we only use up one planet’s worth, not three. Animal agriculture is an industry that can no longer be sustained. The planet is close to a tipping point, a point of no return. We have had more than 30 years of talk—now we need action.
Please, for the sake of humanity, will you change to a vegan lifestyle starting on World Vegan Day? It is vital that people shift away from animal agriculture to decrease the overwhelming demand on the planet’s resources, for their own health and to end animal exploitation. You can lead the way.
We are more than happy to meet up with you and answer any questions you may have.
The Vegan Society Aotearoa New Zealand
P.S. We know that such a challenge can seem daunting on your own, so we encourage you to ask your cabinet to join you and truly become world leaders by being the first government to try vegan. In 2016, some members of a Danish political party completed a 22 day vegan challenge to highlight the issues of climate change.
www.tryvegan.org.nz to try our Kiwi vegan challenge