Vegan Australia plans to initiate a number of campaigns directed towards promoting its vision of a vegan world. Below we explore some potential campaigns. If you are interested in becoming involved in any of these, please volunteer or email us.
Goals of the campaigns
The vision of Vegan Australia is to create a world where animals live free of human exploitation. The best way to help animals and to create this world is to promote veganism, and so the aim of Vegan Australia's campaigns is to move towards a world where:
- people accept the ethical basis of veganism
- people understand that vegan diets are healthful and nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits
- veganism is considered as being normal, appealing and acceptable
- eating and living vegan is easy and there are no real or perceived barriers to becoming vegan
Types of campaigns
Campaigns fall into these broad categories:
- lobbying for recognition and support of veganism by government bodies and other institutions, by making representations and submissions calling for pro-vegan policies in food, health, environment, agriculture, animal rights, etc
- campaigning through the media by responding to current issues relevant to veganism as well as promoting other Vegan Australia campaigns
- public education campaigns
- participation in and response to campaigns initiated by other groups
Practical guidance for the campaigns
The campaigns support the principles of Vegan Australia as presented in the Vegan Australia Vision. Applying these principles in practice means that each campaign is:
- Strongly vegan. Each campaign will either specifically promote a 100% vegan world or promote a sub-goal of that end point.
- Explicitly vegan. In each campaign the word 'vegan' will be used whenever possible in printed and online material. Campaigns will not hide the word because it may 'put people off'. The words 'veg', 'veg*n', etc will not be used. The word 'vegetarian' will only be used when referring to non-vegan ovo/lacto diets.
- Positive about veganism. Campaigns will give clear, accurate and balanced information on how to become vegan.
- Based on a compassion for animals. The best way to show compassion for animals is to become vegan and to help others become vegan. Although we demand the rights of people to have access to healthy vegan food and access to education about their diet that is unbiased from the dairy and meat industries, we note that each step towards a vegan world is a step towards a world where animals live free of exploitation.
- Outward looking. There will be no infighting and no criticism of any other vegan or animal groups. Energy is better spent promoting veganism to the general public.
An international organisation that is researching effective advocacy methods is Animal Charity Evaluators. Vegan Australia will use this and other research to find the most effective ways to promote veganism.
Examples of campaigns
Listed below are possible campaigns that Vegan Australia could be involved in. They include submissions to government inquiries, lobbying, campaigns through the media and public vegan education campaigns.
Opportunities for public comment to government bodies on matters relating to veganism arise fairly regularly and Vegan Australia will be primed to respond to each of these with expert, logical submissions. Below are some of these opportunities.
- National Food Plan submission
In 2011, the national government requested submissions about the future of food in Australia. Many organisations responded to this request, including the usual suspects such as big agri-businesses and the supermarket chains. However there were some very positive submissions from non-government organisations, such as the Fred Hollows Foundation. These submissions call for subsidies for food in remote areas and mention only fruits and vegetables as specific examples.
A submission on a National Food Plan on behalf of Vegan Australia was prepared by Jane Daly, Vegan Society NSW. It called for the transition to a sustainable, compassionate vegan diet to be a priority for Australian food policy. The submission included recommendations that steps be taken:
- to improve the health of Australians and lower the burden on the health system by reducing the incidence of dietary related diseases
- to use Australia's land resources more effectively and sustainably
- to end the use of animal agriculture systems within the next 20 years by building up and supporting Australia's fruit, vegetable and grain producers
Note that this submission did not call for half measures. It called for the government to set targets for the reduction and eventual elimination of the production of animal products. This is an ambitious goal, but it is worth stating this clearly so that people become used to the idea. A vegan world is the goal of Vegan Australia and the more frequently this is said, the more quickly it will come about.
- Submission to the draft Australian Dietary Guidelines
The Australian government issues guidelines for healthy eating, known as the Australian Dietary Guidelines. These guidelines form the basis for a wide range of decisions made by health professionals, policy makers and food manufacturers. There were a number of serious problems with this draft so a submission on behalf of Vegan Australia was prepared by Jane Daly, Vegan Society NSW, in February 2012.
The submission called for the guidelines to include consideration of the wellbeing and rights of animals and not to disregard the great number of Australians who for animal rights, environmental, health, religious and other reasons, have already adopted plant-based diets. The submission also called for an acknowledgement of the fact that humans do not need to consume any animal products to be healthy and are able to live a healthy life on a vegan diet. This is the position of the mainstream Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics which issues dietary guidelines in the USA.
The draft also contained misleading and untrue statements about vegetarian and vegan diets. The draft appears to have been unduly influenced by the meat, dairy and other animal industries and the research used to support the draft is biased. If the final version of the guidelines continues to appear to be unduly influenced by the animal industries, then Vegan Australia may challenge the guidelines by legal means. Pro-bono legal representation may be sought to do this.
- Independent Review into Australia's Livestock Export Trade
No pro-vegan submission was made to the recent Review into Australia's Livestock Export Trade. The closing date has passed, so this was a missed opportunity. But this review is a good example of why vegans need a strong consistent voice in this arena. Of the eight submissions to the review which mentioned the words vegan or vegetarian, seven presented incorrect information or negative stereotypes of vegans and veganism.
- National Government Preventative Health Taskforce submissions
Again, no pro-vegan submission was made to this important inquiry. The taskforce received over 400 submissions following the release of its discussion paper Australia: the healthiest country by 2020. Only one submission mentioned the word vegan.
- Review of food labelling laws
An Australian and New Zealand Food Labelling Review was held in 2010 which called for submissions from the public. In its submission, the Australian Greens Victoria Animals Working Group said that food labels should "clearly state when a food contains any animal or animal derivative". Submissions are now closed, but Vegan Australian could have added weight to this demand by making its own submission.
Lobbying campaigns can be carried out by making submissions to inquiries, by producing reports and making them widely known and by communications with appropriate bodies by email or letter as well as direct contact with government ministers and heads of departments.
- Equitable access to vegan food
Many Australians do not have easy access to healthy foods and so Vegan Australia will lobby governments to ensure all Australians, including those living in regional and remote areas, have equal access to affordable and adequate fresh fruits and vegetables and other plant foods irrespective of income.
- Health authorities to educate the public about vegan diet
Vegan Australia will lobby health and medical authorities to educate the Australian public about the health benefits of vegan diets and to support people adopting vegan diets. Official dietary advice should reflect a sustainable balanced vegan diet, such as PCRM's Power Plate. Authorities should also implement behaviour change campaigns to facilitate a rapid transition to a sustainable and compassionate vegan diet.
- Shift subsidies from animal production
Animal production industries in Australia receive millions of dollars of tax funded government subsidies. Vegan Australia will lobby governments to remove these subsidies and to assist the farming industry to move towards stock-free, plant-based farming. The full cost of meat and other animal products should be passed on to consumers, as it is in Japan where meat is not subsidised and yet health levels are very high. Vegan Australia will examine all ways that governments directly and indirectly support or promote the production and consumption of animal products and will seek to influence the policies underlying these subsidies.
- Ban advertising of processed food and animal products
Vegan Australia will campaign against advertising processed food and animal products. It will start a ban on advertising to children, and a ban on advertising highly greenhouse gas intensive foods. This campaign could learn much from the campaign against tobacco advertisements in the recent past. In the short term Vegan Australia may make complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau and similar bodies about factual inaccuracies, such those identified in the complaint about untrue claims in milk advertising.
- Remove discrimination against vegans in health institutions and prisons
For people in institutions and those who are unable to supply their own meals, obtaining nutritious vegan food can be very difficult. Vegan Australia will campaign against the discrimination that vegans face in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, schools, colleges and other public institutions and work towards better and more nutritious vegan catering in all institutions.
- Vegan food available at government funded functions
Vegan Australia will lobby all levels of government to ensure that quality vegan food is available at all government sponsored functions where food is served. This may begin with a campaign for local councils to adopt a pro-vegan food policy for council functions.
- Healthy vegan school lunches
Vegan Australia will lobby schools and education departments for healthy vegan school lunches to be available to children.
- Government to set targets to eliminate animal production
In appropriate submissions, Vegan Australia will lobby governments to set targets for the reduction and eventual elimination of the production of animal products on ethical and environmental grounds.
- Government to set targets to eliminate animal consumption
Vegan Australia will lobby health and medical authorities to commit to targets for the reduction and eventual elimination of the consumption of animal products on health and disease risk grounds.
- Catering education
Vegan Australia will lobby educational institutions to include adequate instruction on catering for vegans in catering courses in schools and colleges.
- Professional health courses to include vegan nutrition
The level of nutritional training, including vegan nutrition, in many profession health courses is very low. This is especially the case in university medical schools. Vegan Australia will lobby educational institutions to include adequate instruction on vegan nutrition in health courses, including medicine, nutrition, dietetics and other complementary and alternative medicine courses. In the statement on vegetarian diets the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada say: "Dietetics professionals have a responsibility to support and encourage those who express an interest in consuming a vegetarian diet. They can play key roles in educating vegetarian clients about food sources of specific nutrients, food purchase and preparation, and any dietary modifications that may be necessary to meet individual needs."
- Legal definition of the word 'vegan'
In 2010, the European Parliament made 'vegan' a legally protected term as part of new consumer food information regulations. This means that, at least in Europe, veganism has now been given official recognition. Vegan Australia will lobby for a legal definition of the word 'vegan' for food labelling in Australia. This will require food manufacturers to meet certain standards if they describe their products as vegan.
- Mandatory vegan nutrition labels
Vegan Australia will lobby for mandatory vegan information on nutrition information labels. This will require manufacturers to state whether products contain any animal ingredients and whether they have been tested on non-human animals.
- Vegan question in the census
Vegan Australia will request dietary preference questions be added to the census to address the knowledge gap in numbers and trends in the uptake of vegan diets.
- Vegan/organic methods of agriculture
Vegan Australia will request that the organic food industry use vegan methods of agriculture and that they label and promote products grown in this way.
- CSIRO and other research bodies to study stock-free farming
The shift to a 100% vegan diet will mean that animal manure will not be available as a fertiliser. Animal fertiliser can not simply be replaced with synthetic fertilisers, due to high energy costs in the manufacture of nitrogen fertilisers and the limited supply of other fertilisers.
Sustainable and secure agriculture will need to find efficient ways of capturing nitrogen and returning other nutrients to the soil. Stock-free rotation methods have great potential to facilitate this. There have been some demonstrations of these methods which show that they can be commercially and environmentally viable. However they need more development if a sustainable and secure food supply is to be achieved for future generations.
Vegan Australia will call on the CSIRO and university and other research centres to urgently research the most resource effective stock-free farming techniques that also minimise greenhouse gas emissions. A shift to stock-free farming will benefit farmers, Australian residents and undernourished people worldwide.
In addition, Vegan Australia may carry out its own research into planning for a vegan agricultural system. This would investigate the effect of a vegan world on the environment as well as on the economy and jobs.
- Assist animal farmers to convert to plant farming
Cases of animal farmers realising the innate cruelty of keeping farmed animals are increasing. Howard Lyman and Ian Brothers are two such farmers. Vegan Australia will offer a service to animal farmers who are considering leaving the industry, giving them options and support.
- Campaign for restaurants to offer vegan meals
To help veganism become more mainstream, vegan food must become more widely available. Good quality vegan items should be available in all places where food is sold.
In this campaign, Vegan Australia will contact all restaurants, including major restaurant chains, and encourage them to add several quality vegan dishes to their standard menu, or even have a separate vegan menu. Vegan Australia could help by suggesting recipes and by giving publicity.
Some progress has already been made in negotiations with a national restaurant chain to add quality vegan meals to their menu. The beginning of a Business case for vegan menu options in non-vegan restaurants has developed out of this.
This campaign could include other areas where meals are served, such as airlines.
- Lobby political parties to adopt vegan policies
Vegan Australia will lobby political parties and give them suggestions for policies leading to a vegan world. Examples of suggested policies can be found in the Vegan Manifesto of the Vegan Society (UK).
- International aid to be vegan where possible
Vegan Australia will contact government aid agencies and NGOs and request they support only sustainable stock-free vegan agriculture and vegan diets in their international development projects unless this is not immediately practicable due to local circumstances.
- School education to cover animal rights and veganism
Vegan Australia will lobby state education departments and the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority requesting that they include in the school curriculum consideration of different ethical approaches to human-animal relations, including veganism and rights-based approaches. The curriculum should be honest about the consequences for nonhuman animal well-being of the production of meat, fish, eggs, dairy foods and other animal products. The curriculum should also ensure that basic vegan food literacy and skills education is available in all schools in Australia. The Irish Animal Education Outreach shows what can be done.
- Retailers to stock vegan products
Vegan Australia will work with retailers to increase the variety and distribution of vegan products.
- Campaign for reductions in greenhouse gas intensity of foods
Vegan Australia will lobby governments to introduce a maximum greenhouse gas intensity of foods, with products in excess of the maximum to be removed from sale and other greenhouse intensive foods to be taxed.
- Animal production recognised in carbon tax
Vegan Australia will lobby government to include agriculture in greenhouse gas emission schemes. This would have the effect of penalising animal industries for excessive production of global-warming gases.
- Vegan organisations should be given charity status
Australian tax law allows gifts to registered charities to be tax deductible. However organisations such as Vegan Australia, which promote veganism and all its benefits, can not be registered as deductible gift recipients. Vegan Australia will lobby for a change in the tax law to allow registration. If this campaign is successful, more funds will be received from individuals and charitable foundations which can be used in the promotion of veganism.
- Research the marketing techniques of the animal industries
Vegan Australia will analyse the marketing campaigns of meat, dairy and other animal industries which aim to normalise consumption of animal products. In particular it will examine those campaigns targeted at children, and look at ways these can be effectively countered.
- Ban commercial campaigning in schools by animal industries
Schools should be places where children learn the skills of thinking for themselves and critically examining the world around them. The intrusion of corporate interests into schools has become more widespread in recent years and the meat, dairy and other animal industries have taken advantage of this for the purpose of influencing young minds. Vegan Australia will lobby to remove all commercial campaigning and sponsorship from schools.
- Lobby environmental groups on impact of animal agriculture
Most major environmental organisations do not emphasise the importance of animal agriculture as a major source of greenhouse gases and other pollution. See documentary "Cowspiracy".
Campaigns through the media
By responding to current issues relevant to veganism and liaising with the media via press releases and statements, Vegan Australia will raise awareness within the media of vegan issues. Vegan Australia will engage experts in various fields to speak to the media as issues arise. Our aim is to become known by the media as a reliable source. We will build a media rapid-response capacity, both in identifying relevant issues and in responding to them in detail.
Public vegan education campaigns
Public vegan education campaigns can be carried out by direct promotion to the general public through advertising, social media, traditional media, websites, etc.
- Educate the general public about the benefits of veganism
Vegan Australia will mount public education campaigns to bring the vegan message to the general public around Australia. These campaigns will counter the propaganda of the animal products industries, the conservative health/medicine bodies and environment agencies and will seek to normalise the public view of veganism.
The campaigns will inform people about what veganism is, the benefits of veganism, its ethical basis and why it is a minimum standard of decency. The campaigns will
- increase the public's awareness of animal rights
- show the positive health aspects of veganism
- show the impact on the environment of animal agriculture
- describe how to go vegan in a way that is easy, nutritious, delicious and fulfilling
These vegan publicity campaigns could appear
- on the Internet, making good use of social and other media (as does GetUp)
- as pamphlets, videos and other materials for distribution though stalls or other groups
- on billboards
- on radio or TV
- in newspapers
- Work directly with schools and youth
Vegan Australia will provide services to schools for vegan education. This may include creating or sourcing printed, video or interactive materials for use in vegan education. It may also encourage student involvement by events such as a student vegan essay competition. Other youth outreach work may be possible.
- Animal abusers don't stop at animals
Vegan Australia will publicise studies showing that people who directly abuse animals often move on later to abuse other humans, often women and children, by violence. An example campaign is PCRM's letter of complaint about school dissection.
- Direct education of health professionals
Vegan Australia will create vegan nutrition educational material and distribute it to all doctors' surgeries, nutritionists and other health professionals.
- Operate or support a Vegan Pledge scheme with mentoring
Vegan Australia will offer new vegans or those curious about veganism the opportunity to receive guided support in their transition to veganism and also the support of a mentor. Similar schemes are the Vegan Society (UK) Vegan Pledge, Animal Liberation Victoria's Vegan Easy Challenge and the Sydney Vegan Club's 30 Day Vegan Challenge. Alternatively, Vegan Australia will support and publicise these existing schemes.
Working with other groups
Vegan Australia will present a strongly vegan message which will work in well with campaigns of other animal groups. It will do this in two ways. First, it will encourage people who have been affected by a specific animal campaign to expand their understanding to include all animals. Second, the stronger vegan position held by Vegan Australia may make other organisations appear more mainstream and hence more acceptable to the public.
Single issue and animal welfare campaigns
The vision of Vegan Australia is a world where the use of animals by humans has been abolished. To this end Vegan Australia will concentrate on the promotion of veganism and will not initiate single issue animal welfare campaigns. There are many other groups actively campaigning on single issues. Vegan Australia will use their campaigns, wherever it is appropriate, to extend the reach of the campaign towards veganism. Vegan Australia will appeal to members of the public who support a particular single issue campaign and suggest to them that their concern should be extended to all animals and all animal use. While Vegan Australia does not advocate any "improvements" to animal use practices, it will not participate in criticism of animal groups who do campaign for welfare reforms. It will use opportunities where the public's interest has been awakened to a particular cruel practice to encourage the public to look further, into questioning all animal use. It will use topical single issue campaigns by others as a launching point for vegan education. In this way Vegan Australia will complement the work of other groups.
How to determine if a campaign should be supported
A campaign should be supported only if the demands of the campaign would be valid in a 100% vegan world. For example, campaigning for research into a vegan agricultural system, for vegan food in hospitals and restaurants, or for good nutrition information, are all campaigns that should be supported. Campaigns calling for animals to be "free range" or organic, for animals to be killed in Australia rather than overseas, for the consumption of dairy or eggs (vegetarianism), for bigger cages, for group housing for sows, or for breeding sheep who do not need mulesing, are all examples where the demands of the campaign would not make sense in a 100% vegan world.
Extending other campaigns
An example of a campaign which Vegan Australia would not initiate but might use to extend the reach of the campaign towards veganism, is the well-known "Meat Free Monday" campaign. Even though in a 100% vegan world every day would be a "Meat Free" day, this campaign demands too little. It does not use "Meat Free Monday" as a stepping stone to veganism, but as an end in itself. Also, it has an implicit message that going vegan is very difficult and that "baby steps" are a way forward. Vegan Australia will only promote clear direct steps for becoming vegan and hence will only use its resources to initiate or support a more comprehensive campaign, such as the 30 Day Vegan Easy Challenge.
In short, campaigns which call for or accept any form of animal use or consumption will not be supported.
The range of campaigns that Vegan Australia could be involved is very wide. In the beginning, there may not be enough resources to cover all of these campaigns, and other campaigns that may be necessary in the future. Vegan Australia will have to decide which campaigns will have the most impact and will need to direct its resources appropriately.
It is worth repeating that, although the direct aim of all these campaigns is to improve the environment for the acceptance of veganism in Australia, the indirect, and more important, aim is to bring about:
"a world in which people treat animals with respect, ensure justice for them and enable them to live their lives free of human exploitation, use and ownership".