This is a transcript of a talk given by Greg McFarlane, Director of Vegan Australia, to members of Animal Rights Advocates in Perth on 23 February 2013. The talk briefly introduced Vegan Australia and was followed by a talk by Dr Andrew Knight on 'The Costs and Benefits of Animal Experimentation'. The talk was introduced by Nick Pendergrast from Animal Rights Advocates.
Thanks Nick for inviting me to say a few words about Vegan Australia. This is only my second visit to Western Australia and I've really enjoyed both trips. I am pleased to see such an active animal rights and vegan movement here.
It is wonderful to see so many people here who clearly have a great concern for the rights of animals, and want to see the end of animal use. No doubt the concern for animals has led many of you to embracing veganism.
I am on the board of the newly-formed organisation Vegan Australia. Our vision is a "world in which people treat other animals with respect, ensure justice for them and enable them to live their life free of human exploitation, use and ownership." We are more than just a vegan social group. We believe that veganism is a social justice issue that is probably the next big issue in the world coming up. Our goal is to radically change people's beliefs and attitudes towards animals.
Vegan Australia will campaign for veganism as the basis of a just and ethical society and will promote its benefits to human health, the natural environment and social justice. We have three groups that we are aiming at. We hope to reach individuals, governments and institutions to bring about an environment where animals are no longer used for any purpose, including food, clothing, entertainment and testing. Our work reaching out to individuals will be similar to other organisations in encouraging them to become vegan. We also want to encourage governments to have a more positive approach to veganism and institutions such as dietetics associations and universities which teach medicine. We are aiming at these larger organisations that indirectly influence individuals.
We have four main areas we will work in:
- Represent vegan interests to governments and institutions. For example:
- Make vegan submissions to inquiries such as the National Food Plan and Australian Dietary Guidelines.
- Lobby for removal of subsidies for the animal production industries and transferring these subsidies to plant foods
- Improve access to good fresh vegan food in remote areas, public institutions such as hospitals, aged care, prisons
- Better ethical and vegan nutrition education in schools
- Better vegan nutrition education for doctors and other health practitioners, so that when a vegan comes to them they know what to do. A lot of doctors will just say you need to eat meat
- Labeling laws to make it easier to identify vegan products
- Research how to convert Australia's agricultural system to be 100% plant based, what changes that would have on the economy, employment, land use and how we could handle any negative issues, such as job losses
- Campaign through the media. Whenever an issue arises in the media that is relevant to veganism we will respond. We will also issue press releases about vegan and animal rights issues that the media might be interested in.
- Provide vegan education to the public. We hope to do advertising campaigns promoting veganism on TV, newspapers, etc. We will research who our best audience might be and target them to be most effective. Young people may be the best target audience. Large scale campaigning will require a lot of money.
- Provide services and resources for new and existing vegans. Especially to help vegans stay healthy on a vegan diet. Don't eat too many cakes! (Animated discussion about this issue from the audience, as vegan cake was on the desert menu!)
We currently have a board of volunteers running Vegan Australia. We are from Qld, NSW, ACT, Vic. It would be great to have someone from WA on the board. If you are interested in this or helping out in any way please get in touch. The website is veganaustralia.org.au.
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