Vegan to walk the length of NZ barefoot in protest of landlord's decision on cow's milk

  • 09/09/2018

A vegan café owner forced to close after refusing to serve dairy is planning to walk the length of the country in protest.

Morgan Redfern-Hardisty was given an ultimatum by the trust that owns the land his café sits on in August - allow customers a choice between dairy and plant-based alternatives, or get out.

The Mangawhai Activity Zone Trust (MAZ) says there have been complaints from the public after Cool Beans Café stopped serving dairy in July, and the café should at least offer it as an option.

MAZ pays the overheads for the café as well as owning the premises and land it sits on. It takes 5 percent of Mr Redfern-Hardisty's profits, according to NZME.

But Mr Redfern-Hardisty is unwilling to go back to serving dairy, as he believes it is bad for the environment and animals suffer to produce it.

He said customers support the move, and a petition pleading MAZ to reverse its decision has 14,000 signatures.

But as of September 8 he's decided to shut up shop and will be walking the length of the country in "support of the silent", NZME reports.

Cool Beans Café will close on October 22 and Mr Redfern-Hardisty's walk will begin shortly afterward.

He said he chose to close as he didn't want to choose between "taste and suffering", although he does think the MAZ board may have been influenced in their decision.

"I don't think the trust has received any donations from dairy money, but I don't know," he told NZME.

"You'd have to look into each individual member of the trust to find out their interest in dairy. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them had worked with dairy or ice cream or something."

MAZ chairman Colin Gallagher, who ran an ice cream company in 2012 and previously worked for chocolate company Bennetts of Mangawhai, said the decision was about giving customers options. He tried to negotiate with Mr Redfern-Hardisty.

"I'd be quite happy if he was to make organic milk. I actually took around to his home… a bottle of organic milk. I've tried it, it's acceptable."

Mr Gallagher felt that was a fair compromise, but Mr Redfern-Hardisty rejected it.