In what is being described as an "unprecedented world first", four international vegan groups which make up the Vegan World Alliance are challenging their leaders to be vegan for a month, which they say is "easy".
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"It is time that more leaders commit to a low carbon lifestyle, encouraging their cabinet and members of the public to reduce their animal product intake, ideally to zero," said the Vegan Society Aotearoa New Zealand on behalf of the alliance.
The group said there is a "plethora" of vegan foods available so "there is no reason for anyone to not be plant-based".
"The health benefits are clear, with many cancers being prevented, heart disease and type 2 diabetes reversed and many people finding greater energy, better recovery times and good weight loss as side effects of going vegan," the group claims.
While some studies have shown health benefits of going vegan, others also reveal that being vegan or vegetarian could increase the risk of developing stroke and having higher blood pressure due to the amount of salt in some processed vegan food.
The NZ vegan group said it has already given Ardern some vegan cheese "which she apparently enjoyed along with others in the office".
It has also penned a letter directly to the Prime Minister, saying that shifting to a plant-based diet 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".
The group said by reducing the demand for animal products, emissions from animal agriculture will reduce while land used for farming can be transformed into forestry and spaces for the ecosystem to thrive.
"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."
"Please, for the sake of humanity, will you change to a vegan lifestyle starting on World Vegan Day?"
The letter said the group recognises the challenge can seem "daunting", so encourages Ardern to ask her cabinet to join her.
The other groups challenging their leaders to go vegan come from Canada, Australia and Denmark.
Newshub is contacting Ardern for comment.
The full letter to Prime Minister Ardern:
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. Each of us is accountable 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