The notable French writer, Victor Hugo famously said, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” Vegan Animal Rights advocates and activists from all over New Zealand believe veganism is exactly such an idea, and so they are converging on the nation’s capital this weekend to discuss philosophy, strategy, and tactics within their movement.
The event is being called the ‘A Vegan Future Hui’, and the name is almost self explanatory. The people are coming from Kerikeri in the North, to Invercargill in the South, and almost everywhere in between, with one purpose in mind: To discuss how to begin advancing a clear, open, and confident Veganism and Animal Rights focussed message, with the end goal of a vegan Aotearoa/New Zealand in mind.
In one sense though, it is not entirely new. Animal Rights advocates around the globe, (as opposed to Animal Welfare proponents), have been talking about veganism and abolishing all forms of animal exploitation, to anyone who would listen since the global movement began in the 1970s.
However, the world has changed significantly since then. A few decades ago many people perceived veganism as something of a ‘fringe’ idea. But in recent years there has been a major shift in people’s perceptions of this growing social justice movement, and the associated lifestyle choices it entails.
This is in part because of a major increase in awareness of the many serious problems inherent in the status quo. The way humans exploit animals, including raising and killing animals for food, (and especially so in factory farming), has been demonstrated to cause significant, and often severe suffering for them. Science has also revealed that animal agriculture is causing catastrophic environmental destruction, including being a major contributor to climate change, as compared to growing plants for human consumption. Eating animal-based foods has even been scientifically linked to major and serious human health issues such as heart disease, stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.
At the same time, awareness has been growing of the viability, practicality, and significant health and other benefits of a vegan lifestyle, and so it is rapidly increasing in popularity. People from all sectors of society – from our governor general Dame Patsy Reddy, through to regular Kiwis of all ages, cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, spiritual beliefs, political affiliations, and more – are going vegan. Veganism is especially popular amongst young people. The almost exponential and ongoing increase in availability of vegan products and options has also accelerated this trend.
The advocates and activists meeting in Wellington this weekend recognise that there will be scepticism and even resistance in some sectors of society: especially amongst the farming community. But they are also confident that large numbers of other ordinary Kiwis are ready and willing to hear this important message. The aim of the Hui is to discuss how to begin presenting the message to the public, politicians, and industries, in a credible, respectable, and effective way.
The vegan approach, whether practiced by an individual, family, community, business, or indeed applied as a nation-wide policy, ticks many important boxes, and solves many serious and urgent social problems. Yet adopting a vegan lifestyle has become so easy in the 2nd decade of the 21st century, that many animal advocates now feel that it would be socially irresponsible to not talk about it.
Note: The event is being held at Wellington High School, at 249 Taranaki Street from 9:00am – 5:30pm on Saturday the 18th of March, and from 9:00am – 4:00pmon Sunday the 19th of March.