Cutting right back on our consumption of animal products is being touted as vital for cutting greenhouse gases by celebrities like musician Sir Paul McCartney and actress Natalie Portman.
The UK Vegan Society has estimated that eating a vegan diet can reduce by two-thirds the amount of fresh water, fertile land and energy required, compared with eating a typical British diet. The United Nations has reported that animal agriculture causes 18% of our global greenhouse gas emissions – more than world transport, including flying. In New Zealand that figure is significantly higher, with more than half of our greenhouse gas emissions coming from animal agriculture.
For most people, the word ‘vegan’ conjures up images of a dull diet of rice and lentils. But plant-based foods can be varied, delicious and attractive. And the ingredients don’t have to come from expensive organic stores or delicatessens. The recently revived Vegan Society of Aotearoa New Zealand is wasting no time tackling mainstream supermarket fare in an effort to make veganism more accessible to the general public.
Since re-launching on World Vegan Day – November 1 – members have been visiting supermarkets, researching products and compiling a comprehensive list of vegan food readily available in New Zealand supermarkets. This has now been released as ‘The Big Book of Vegan Products’.
“We want to demonstrate how easy it is to eat ‘normal’ food on a vegan diet. You don’t need to go to a specialist store or spend a lot of money,” said Vegan Society co-ordinator Alice Leonard. “People don’t have control over the environment but they do have control over their diet,” says Alice Leonard. “Veganism is a solution to the environmental crisis as well as health issues and animal welfare concerns.”
In addition to promoting the benefits and accessibility of a vegan lifestyle, the Vegan Society will provide support for existing vegans in the form of advice, resources, vegan coaches and local contacts.
There are also plans to develop a ‘vegan-approved’ tick for food and branch out in local communities through stalls and market days.