MasterChef winner of 2013, Aaron Brunet has since gone on to become a plant-based vegan and eco-warrior. He now writes a plant-based food column in the NZ Herald Bite magazine and teaches plant-based cooking.
Aaron is one of the new breed of passionate foodies who have embraced eating plant based for wellness and vitality, as well as great taste. Aaron sees a plant-based diet as a fresh and fun creative challenge. “I’m enjoying food more than I have for years. As well as getting lots of pleasure from the actual eating of it, the underlying knowledge that I’m looking after myself and the planet and animals adds a deeper layer of satisfaction.”
I’ve examined my principles and values and found a way to be in the world that enhances my sense of integrity and gives me a new sense of clarity. Making a different choice about the food I eat made total sense to me because I could do it right now, and it would have the biggest effect.
I am vegan in general because I believe it is the healthiest way to be and being a competitive runner, you are what you put in. I am strictly vegan however, because my morals will not allow me to be any other way. When I did a physics paper at university I remember my lecturer talking to us about waves and he said “a wave is a wave is a wave” meaning regardless of the makeup of the wave – it is still a wave. This can be applied to the suffering of animals – suffering is suffering is suffering. Regardless of what is suffering it is still suffering and it is our moral obligation as humans to recognise and prevent as much suffering as we can.
One of the biggest reasons why we separate ourselves from other animals is because we have morals, to me this means to ignore them is worse than having none at all. When I train for triathlon or a run, I am training- so when I go into a race I can beat as many people as possible regardless of background, age or sex, in turn doing my bit in proving that being vegan is not weak or unhealthy.
Being vegan to me represents strength of mind, body and soul and through competitions I intend to show the world just how vegan I am.
I’ve been vegan since 2004 and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner! I’m very lucky that I run a vegan business, so my work life is completely in synch with my ethics. My intention is to make veganism more visible and more desirable, by providing delicious vegan options. I’m meeting more and more people who are choosing veganism for their own health, for the animals, and for the environment, and it gives me great hope for the future.Website: http://www.angelfood.co.nz/
Founder and Managing Director at Alfazaya Initiative & The Growth AcadeME
Talofa Lava! My name is Alpha. I was born and raised in Samoa until I left to attend Nelson College in NZ.
I’m a multi-passionate entrepreneur with over 20-years experience facilitating potential business exchanges between investors, buyers, and franchises. The sum of my previous work and life experiences in Samoa, NZ, South Korea, Japan and Dubai has led me back home to NZ and establishing my companies Alfazaya Initiative and The Growth AcadeME. More importantly, it put me on a life-changing journey to a plant-based diet and healthy living, to heal my diabetes type 2 and nourish my family.
In January 2021, I weighed 160 kilos, doing physio twice a week and taking the maximum dose of insulin. As a typical islander, I thought the pills would solve all my problems. So then, I started to slowly change the way I ate, not only me but my family also. And that’s when I discovered the Tongan chef, Ana Ma’ilei Savio, of Gia’s Grab & Go, who makes plant-based, allergy-free food.The first thing we ordered was vegan sapasui (chop suey) and our daughter ate it and loved it, and our son too so that was our motivation to order more.
Ana encouraged me to take the NZ Vegan Society’s, Vegan Pasifika 21 Day Challenge, a month before it launched. By the time I started the Challenge, I was already well versed in plant-based food as I was cooking vege dishes for my own family’s health challenge that we were doing. So after 3 months, I went to measure my blood glucose levels and it was 77 (mmmol/mol) – from 150 to 77. The nurses said, “This is the best your blood has ever been, what did you do?”
No meat. No dairy. Exercise. Self-care.
When we eat well, everything changes. Winning!
“We are responsible as chefs to offer food for whatever purpose enriches our Families and Community’s Health and Well-being now and in the future.”
ANA SEINI MA’ILEI SAVIO
Chef consultant/ allergen friendly/ Vegan chef
Founder/owner of Gia’s Grab & Go
15 YEARS, COUNTRIES OF EXPERIENCE:Treviso, (Italy), London (Uk), Sydney (Australia) Auckland (New Zealand)
COOKERY BACKGROUND: Cafes, Michelin Restaurants, Corporate Lunch Catering, Bistros, Brasserries, Hotels
QUALIFICATIONS: Certificate in Advanced Professional Cookery, Level 3 Uk Food Safety Certificate, Allergy Awareness Certificate UK, HACCP certificate, COSSH certificate, Diversity Certificate, Manual Handling Certificate, 7 Habits of most effective managers workshop certificate.
HOBBIES/INTERESTS: Family, Travel, eco-conscious lifestyle, allergen-friendly food, cultural practices, business, health & well-being, languages
LANGUAGES SPOKEN: Tongan, Italian and English
Apollo is a NZ born Samoan, whose family hail from the villages of Vaie’e (Mum) and Sale’imoa (Dad). The eldest of four siblings. Apollo is married to a beautiful vegan Queen from Copenhagen, Demark, and blessed with a beautiful Vegan Wildling daughter.
Apollo’s area of work is in Mental health and Addictions, with a particular interest in Pasifika governance within Aotearoa NZ, and building resilience in our young people. Apollo also serves as a Warrant Officer in the NZ Army Reserves, in addition he serves on two other governance Boards. He holds a Master’s in Health Management and a Doctorate in Health Science.
Apollo has been vegan since 2010 and acknowledges that he has been very lucky and blessed with the opportunities in his life, opportunities that many people do not have. Therefore, Apollo wants to ‘pay back and pay forward’ those blessings into our communities, especially as a member of a Vegan Board.
My name is Augustine Kopa, born and raised in NZ and lived in Rarotonga Cook Islands for 12 years only to come back and raise my young family here for more financial opportunities.I am a qualified swim and day trading coach with experience in the hospitality and hotel industry. I have 4 gorgeous children 22, 9, 6 and 5 years old whom I love dearly.
I started the Pasifika Vegan 21 Day challenge due to being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in February 2020 and did not want to be medicine dependent. I had to do this challenge because what I was doing was not working and my body, mind and spirit knew if I did not change now, the future I wanted for my children would be determined by the attitude of my decisions and for any mother, our children are worth living for.
Other than my health goals of dramatically reducing my blood sugar level; my children give me the drive to give my all. I feel great, nourished and energized just by changing my conversation and relationship that I have with food.
Accountant in an IT Company Official People Choice Ambassador for Miss United Nations Tourism 2012 Winner for title Miss Best Personality, crown in Kingston Jamaica, representing New Zealand.
Being a health conscious person and a vegan I feel happier, healthier and more energized: I lost weight and I gained a young looking complexion too. I like the fact that being on a vegan diet can decrease my risk of many chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and I increase my life expectancy.
My love for animals is another reason I choose to be vegan. I hate to think of the pain that animals bear just to satisfy meals for people. I believe animals are our equals and deserve to live freely on this universe. I was also inspired by the vegan diets that famous celebrities have taken on.
Kia ora, I’m Cam.
I’m part of the team that helped to create the 21 Day NZ Vegan Challenge and am currently a mentor as part of the team. This challenge was created for those wanting to try the vegan lifestyle for 21 days with support from experienced mentors and registered dieticians.
I was the biggest meat eater for 26 years of my life. Growing up with a Fijian dad and Chinese mother, they both enjoyed meat as part of their traditional dishes. Thankfully I have been able to veganise most of those dishes including my Chinese grandmother’s dishes!
On a random rainy day in October of 2016 I was scrolling through Netflix and decided to watch a documentary called Cowspiracy. It shocked me to learn of the huge negative impact that animal agriculture has on our environment. As someone, passionate about protecting our environment I decided to transition towards a plant based diet.
I did my research to make sure it could meet all our nutrient requirements and learnt it could. So I weaned myself off of animal products and at the start of 2017 went fully plant based.
Sadly the last connection I made was to the animals. I always considered myself an animal lover. But I never considered the animals that were on my plate before. I went vegan after watching a documentary called Earthlings in June 2017 that showed the standard practices of animal agriculture. I did a lot of research and could not find one reason for why we needed to consume animals.
I wish someone had told me from birth about what happens to animals before they get to our plates. So in my spare time I advocate for animals on the streets of Auckland at Make The Connection events to help raise awareness as I believe people have the right to know the processes behind animal agriculture. I also help out at sanctuaries when I can as a lot of these sanctuaries don’t get any sponsorship and many of them run off of donations and volunteers.
In my spare time I also love to run and show that we can thrive on a whole foods plant based diet. I will be running my 2nd marathon in Oct 2021 and will represent Team Vegan loud and proud!
I will continue to speak up for the animals for as long as is required. The quote “If you are silent in times of injustice, you choose the side of the oppressor” is how I view the current unspoken of suffering of animals. Many people know now but are not willing to speak about it or engage in it for fear of how they will look or be perceived. For me, what the animals going through is much worse that what any human in NZ will ever have to go through and so I choose to speak for them as they have no voice.
For me Veganism is about living in a more compassionate and connected way every day. At least 3 times a day I can say, “No animal was harmed in the making of this food (or clothing, or whatever…..)” I also feel that my new-found understanding of compassion for those weaker and more vulnerable than me has flowed over into other aspects of my life. The fact that it is also good for the environment and for my own health are two great bonus reasons for being Vegan. People often find it interesting that I used to be a Freezing worker, (they’re called Slaughterhouse workers in other countries). I also used to be a soldier in the NZ Army. Yet despite my history, I am now embracing non-violence. It just goes to show, almost anyone can change.
Chlöe Swarbrick is the Green MP for Central Auckland , not only a politician but also an entrepreneur, who was elected as a member of the New Zealand Parliament at the age of 23. Chloe is the second Green Party MP to become vegan, following on from Gareth Hughes, the now retired MP. She is the Green Party Spokesperson for Mental Health, Drug Law Reform, Education, Arts and Heritage, Tertiary Education, Small Business, Broadcasting, Youth and Local Government. Chloe assisted the Vegan Society in judging our Vegan Pie awards in 2020
I am Barbara Glowinski and one of my best friend’s is Vegan. I respect her Vegan viewpoint and life choices. Cooking and baking is my passion and I enjoy creating vegan meals and baked goods for my good friend who loves and appreciates it very much! As she always attests, veganism is for one’s health, for the planet and for the animals.
Bodybuilder, Mental Health Advocate & Foodie
I made my decision to go vegan in 2017 soon after I was diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder. I started regular therapy sessions alongside pharmacological treatment, which progressively improved my ability to manage my own mental health while also gaining a better understanding of my own values and beliefs.
For me, veganism promotes the idea that my existence is no more significant than anyone else’s. Although it’s impossible for me to contribute positively to everything around me; if a living being values their life and wishes to be a part of this world just as much as I do, then the least that I can do is try my best to limit my actions that would otherwise harm them.
Dame Patsy Reddy is the former Governor-General for New Zealand. She is now also the country’s most high-profile vegan, an advocate for sustainability, a film buff who has championed some of our most successful movies during her tenure as Film Commission chairwoman, a self-confessed shoe addict and a supporter of New Zealand fashion. As she got older, she became interested in the debates about the impact of eating animal products on one’s health. Then a couple of years ago, good friends of hers, who are vegan, gave her and her husband David, a DVD called Forks Over Knives. She suggested to David they try eating vegan. The idea of giving up dairy, such as cheese and ice-cream, was particularly hard. But she had chronic laryngitis and sinusitis and a couple of doctors mentioned it might be affected by dairy. They said they would do it for a month, and found they really enjoyed the food. David lost an enormous amount of weight and her sinusitis has cleared.
Like a lot of people I grew up with I was first introduced to Veganism through punk and hardcore music. It immediately made perfect sense to me and I have been vegan for 22 years now (I’m old). i think the ethical, health and political benefits far out weigh the taste of meat pies.
I try to be vegan to help alleviate the exploitation and suffering of animals, to reduce my carbon footprint and other environmental impacts, and to eat a healthy diet. And with luck I may influence others to think similarly.
Mr New Zealand natural bodybuilding champion in 2001, 2007, 2009 and 2015. “My vegan diet definitely gives me an advantage in the field of bodybuilding.”
I’m a General practitioner doctor and doing my best to put myself out of a job, by helping people change their lifestyle, particularly diet, so they don’t get the diseases most of our population get sick and die from. I’ve worked in hospitals, as a surgeon and in public health but it was only in 2012, 14 years after I graduated, that I discovered the strength of the published scientific evidence in showing that eating a whole foods, plant based diet is optimal for our health and preventing and treating most of our common causes of illness and death. The Theory was one thing but since then I’ve had so many patients benefit from eating this way which encourages me to tell every patient i see with a relevant condition.
I have two vegan children thriving on this diet and compete nationally and internationally at triathlon and mountain bike racing. Changing my diet and lifestyle in this was is the most profound change I have ever made, as much for the Fairness to animals ethics and huge environmental benefits ad aligns all my values in one go.
Come and see me for advice or help if you are interested, I’m at 4 Kauri Media Centre in Mount Albert, or available by Skype.
Emmett Skilton has been vegan for a few years now after taking a journey from free range to vegetarian to vegan- because of his love and respect for animals! He found it was easy to make the changes and stick with them because they made him feel so good. Emmett and his partner (Actress, Holly Shervey) are now both vegan!
Meet Auckland based actress Florence Korokoro who has been vegan for many years. She has appeared in Mr Pip (2012), Neighborhood (2016), Sisterhood (2017). From learning about self-awareness and meditation, Florence made the shift towards a plant-based diet and never looked back. You really do notice the healthy person in you. You eat less, you’re energetic and always looking to better yourself, your friends and your environment.
Flip Grater’s vegan journey began 22 years ago as a teenager and she has been an advocate for animals and devourer of delicious plant based foods ever since.
Competitive Muay Thai Boxer, Founder and Director at Audacity PR, Golnaz has dedicated her life to fighting for justice and fighting for fun! A staunch vegan for social justice reasons – being vegan has kept her in the top of her game professionally, competitively and ethically. Golnaz’s favorite saying is by the French who say, there’s no softer pillow than a clear conscience and that’s how she feels about veganism.
Gareth Hughes accepted our easy vegan challenge in March 2019 and has remained vegan ever since. “I enjoyed making the change and it fits better with my philosophy and is actually cheaper and easier than I thought. The food too, is far tastier than I ever imagined!”
Since turning vegan over 35 years ago Ive managed to obtain a doctorate from the University of Oxford, sustain a career thats seen me hold three different professorial appointments, compete at national and international level as a judo player and participate at a recreational level in something like 30 different sports ranging from multi-sports like decathlon and triathlon to marathon running. Im now nearly 60, still competing, and still the same weight as in my early 20s. As a pilot, Im able to obtain a class 1 medical certificate during my regular checkups. Being vegan hasnt disadvantaged me either intellectually or physically but what it has done has enabled me to feel OK about the creatures with whom we share the planet, and happy in the knowledge that they dont have to suffer so that I can indulge my appetites.
Holly became a vegan thanks to meeting and dating fellow actor Emmett Skilton. Being with Emmett made her more and more curious around thinking and researching about where food comes from and before long she too became vegan. The now engaged couple are of course planning a vegan wedding for the future!Website: http://www.hollyshervey.com/
For me being vegan is about being consistent. I like animals and oppose their exploitation so not eating them or using their products is the only logical and honest way to live my life. I believe that animal agriculture is unsustainable in the long term and that a vegan diet will become the norm rather than the exception in the future. Veganism is also good for your health. Giving up dairy cured my asthma!Website: http://www.safe.org.nz/
It was hard to give up ice cream when I became a vegan ten years ago but I did! I’d been vegetarian for thirty years; it was those sad little packages of bits of dead animals that decided me. They had lived and died in fear so that I could eat them. How can someone who is devoted to their cat buy and eat the flesh of another animal? What is the difference between them – we should be caretakers of all creatures. I believe that it is only a matter of time before the plant diet will be recognised as the only sustainable, and moral, way to feed the population. From a health point of view, surely in the eating of an animal product, we are also ingesting its fear and final panic, and the hormones and antibiotics it has been given. I’m 77 and very fit.
An annual delight for the last four years are my solo, self-guided trips to Europe, climbing zillions of stairs and shinning up to mountain-top monuments with ease, as I did in Greece last year (photo). Eating vegan abroad, even without the language, is easier every year. (I do carry snacking nuts, and B12.) Chefs will take me into their kitchens to show me with pride all the dishes, including traditional, that I can eat, and there are usually lentils, beans, lots of vegetables; delis have take-out veges dripping with olive oil. Yum.
I like to think of myself as an “old school” vegan, because I made the change in 2004. This was back when the only vegan cheese you could get was in a squishy log, and your other food choices were between tofu or this weird vegan luncheon meat. Since then, things have come a long way, and there’s still a long way to come.
I went vegetarian at the age of ten. It was for ethical reasons – I couldn’t justify eating another animal just because I enjoyed the taste. Luckily for me my parents went along with it and made me my own special meal each night. The upgrade to veganism came about when I moved to Auckland at the age of twenty-one and volunteered at the S.A.F.E. info booth (which used to be in St Kevin’s Arcade on K Rd). I read all the material on my first day and came home to declare I was going vegan. Probably the best decision I’ve ever made.
These days I promote veganism through my online persona “Immi the Vegan”. I recently launched a comedy, musical web series portraying a vegan woman looking for love (during NZ’s worst vegan man drought). I also work as a Supply Chain and Planning Controller for a plant-based foods manufacturer – so my life is about as vegan as you could get! In my sheltered bubble I sometimes forget that the rest of the world hasn’t quite caught up.
The best thing about being a vegan is knowing that I have done nothing to hurt any animal by what I eat, wear or drink.
I didn’t enjoy being overweight, and out of shape. Joint pains gave me an excuse not to exercise and I was putting on about 1 kg per year. I chanced on Freelee the Banana Girl while checking health channels on the net. It was either Forks Over Knives, or Earthlings that lead me to Gary Yourofsky, BiteSizeVegan and a host of other wonderful people that have taught and inspired my vegan journey.
All my life, I ate meat, fish and dairy products but it was surprisingly easy to change – almost overnight. Being 14 kg lighter means I can now run without pain and all activities are easier. My medical stats have significantly improved (cholesterol etc). The mild asthma I experienced all my life has almost disappeared. Just to wake up with clear sinus tracts is a major reward for me. However, it didn’t take long for the ethical and environmental issues to become more important than any personal considerations.
I choose to be vegan because it makes me think in the basics of daily living about treading lightly and not grabbing at things that aren’t mine. That said I eat extremely well on a vegan diet – everyone in my household cooks vegan; family, friends and parishioners take an interest in supplying me with edibles; my favourite places for sustenance while out and about are the Juicery (CBD) and Cosset (Mt Albert).
“I initially adopted a whole food plant based diet with my athletic performance and long-term health in mind. Its been an enlightening journey for me during which I’ve come to embrace the ethical, planetary and animal welfare aspects of a vegan lifestyle. Coming up nearly 5 years vegan now and I won’t be going back! “
Knowing there are billions of animals still out there being exploited and killed unnecessarily for nothing other than taste motivates me massively to remain vegan and talk about it all that I can. The best thing about being vegan is thriving and knowing you are not harming other beings. Please give being vegan a go… you literally have nothing to lose by doing so!
Check out the links below for more on Josh Howell:
100 Miler Tarawera Ultramarathon – https://www.strava.com/activities/4781479330102km Tarawera Ultramarathon – https://www.strava.com/activities/3081202654
Strava Festive 500 – https://www.strava.com/activities/2953002375
Ironman Triathlon – https://www.strava.com/activities/2184947451
Everesting cycling challenge – https://www.strava.com/activities/974591998
Talofa lava and kia ora koutou. My name is Kristian Fanene Schmidt (he/him), I’m Samoan and I’m a writer, host and consultant. I’m currently based in the US on Ohlone territory but I was born and raised in Porirua.
I don’t identify as a vegan but my diet has been free of meat, eggs and dairy for over 4 years. Moving to LA in 2017, I was a hot ass mess and I needed to start taking better care of my mind, body and spirit. I knew I wasn’t making the healthiest choices when it came to my eating habits and so I was inspired by my Best Friend to try out a plant based diet. I haven’t looked back since!
In saying that though, just because it’s vegan, doesn’t make it healthy. The most important thing for me is that we try incorporate more whole foods while having the processed stuff in moderation. It’s expensive as hell to eat organic veggies and fruit which makes it even harder for a lot of our people to make these lifestyle changes so no judgment – do your best and know that I’m cheering for you!
I started my company Sweet Release Cakes and Treats in 2014 as my very own therapy for my lifetime illness hence the name. I found out about veganism in 2015 from the Wellington Vegans community and gave it a go late 2015…I’ve been vegan since. I changed my café into a fully vegetarian/vegan café determined that my sweet tooth wouldn’t miss out on anything I use to be able to eat before transitioning. I love to experiment and show people how delicious vegan food is. Vegan bacon sandwiches and Tiramisu are the two most popular items with our vegan and non vegan customers. Know a non vegan that thinks vegan food is gross? Send them my way! Being vegan has changed my life for the better, my health has improved and I love being part of the vegan community. I also created the Transitioning Wellington Vegans Facebook group to help those interested in transitioning in Wellington.
Julia competes as an elite powerlifter for IPL New Zealand. This pocket rocket who weighs in at 52kg, frequently lifts over twice her weight and more! Julia is a committed vegan, who took a fitness-based pathway to her vegan lifestyle.
Fakalofa lahi atu
Ko e higoa haaku ko LINDA SEVE. Hau au he maaga ko Avatele.
I am a single mum of 3 sons. Born in Sydney Australia and raised in Auckland New Zealand from the age of 4. I currently live on the Gold Coast in Australia. My 3 sons and I moved here in 2017.
I work from home full time, running multiple businesses. I am a qualified personal trainer. I do mobile PTs, online personal coaching, I sell the best vegan carrot cakes on the planet and I run two other online marketing businesses.
My plant based journey started in 2016 and I have never looked back. I love the lifestyle 100% and now I help others to transition to a plant based diet via two free private group pages on facebook, “Plant based Polynesians” and “Infinite health”. I also share anything to do with health on my FB page “Coach Linda” and everything wealth related on “Linda Seve”.
I have seen hundreds of family’s health change for the better by transitioning to a plant based diet and it brings me so much joy!
I pray that more and more people experience the many benefits of making the simple switch.
The best thing about being vegan is lowering my carbon footprint and keeping family, planet and self healthy.
From a young age, I have loved animals. I formed bonds with all kinds of creatures, from my pet guinea pigs, to the fish I snorkelled with, to the chickens in parks. I have also always loved fighting for causes and campaigning. These two things came together when I was about nine, when I made the connection between the animals I loved, and the chicken, beef and pork on my plate. I became vegetarian, and when I was 11, I became a vegan, as my knowledge of animal exploitation increased. It was around then that I realised that most people hadn’t woken up to how unjust and horrific humans are to animals, and I made it my goal to be a voice for animals as long as I lived.
Since then, I have dedicated my life to that goal. I have made a petition asking Countdown supermarkets to stop selling cage eggs, which gained almost 20,000 signatures and resulted in their agreement to stop selling caged eggs by 2025. I have fundraised $1,800 for the animal sanctuary in Matakana with a friend, and I have an Instagram page about veganism.
My dream is to see a world where animals are seen as beings here with us, not commodities here for us. I will never give up on my life goal of being a voice for the voiceless, until every single animal is treated with compassion.
I have only been vegan for a year and a half… before that I thought veganism was just a diet. Now I am starting to realise it’s a way of thinking about the environment, showing compassion to others and also now discovering that there are different groups of vegans too. I have seen all the benefits of a vegan lifestyle (mind and body) and look forward to bringing more people into the Vegan way of life.
The best thing about being vegan is knowing that your body is not a graveyard for those who have truly suffered and been killed to satisfy our tastes… Not to mention all the amazing vegan treats!Website: https://myspace.com/themarkofman
Since early 2020 news anchor Mike McRoberts has been living a vegan lifestyle.
Mike took up endurance sports in his mid-40s — marathons and Ironman Triathlons kept him active and healthy, until a serious knee injury threatened to derail his athletic avocation. It was veganism to the rescue, for no amount of treatment options helped his ailment.
He was competing in the Dancing with the Stars TV show at the time and had to do so in one-legged fashion. It wasn’t until he travelled to Japan to cover the 2019 Rugby World Cup that things started to change.
“About two weeks into that trip, I realised that I didn’t have any pain in my leg,” he recalls. Filtering through the possible reasons for the improvement, Mike deduced that the low dairy content in Japanese cuisine might be the answer — back home he was essentially on a pescatarian diet [vegetarian with the addition of seafood] but consumed a lot of dairy.
A quick bit of research led to him deciding to give veganism a try. “The results were almost immediate. I still had a bit of knee pain, but I was back to being active, running every day.”
A boon not only for his physical fitness, but his mental health too, as the busy journalist relies on exercise to help him unwind after hectic days in the newsroom. After ditching the dairy, Aotearoa’s top news anchor was back in fighting form.
“It’s been quite a journey, I’ve loved it. I really enjoy cooking and for me it has been like starting all over again, learning what to cook. It has been very good for me.”
Since going vegan, it’s not just the injured knee that has improved. He now finds his body recovers much more quickly from whatever stresses he puts it through and this year Mike, along with his partner Heidi, has embarked on a training schedule he previously thought impossible; running every day.
“I just found my recovery was so much quicker, and when you’re in your 50s that means everything.”
He has also found the change to veganism has improved his mental alertness, which is a big benefit when under the demands of a particularly frantic news cycle.
While the initial impetus for trying veganism was health-related, the underlying social and environmental issues around food choice are not lost on the newsman. Having visited some of the most conflicted regions of the world, Mike is well aware of life’s harsh realities. He values the way in which veganism feeds into improving both the environment and the plight of animals.
“I’ve always had concerns around animal welfare and exploitation, and while that wasn’t the push that got me into it, it is certainly something that I have thought about deeply since going vegan. And I just can’t even imagine going back to not being plant-based.”
His strategy is to aim for the stomach; feed people good vegan food and the converts are sure to follow. To hear Mike talk about the meals he enjoys preparing, it’s clear he derives immense satisfaction from cooking and feeding others, and that’s the kind of affection that can’t help but be contagious.
He has picked up loads of new culinary skills now that he’s preparing vegan food. Lentils, grains, and pulses now feature prominently as key ingredients of comfort food, and he’s more cognizant of not creating waste. No more discarding broccoli stems, for example; they get frozen to later be grated into a stew.
“It’s not a diet, it’s not something I’m sacrificing anything for; it’s the way of life I have chosen. To me, it’s the way of the future, I’m sure it’s something more and more people will find their way to.”
After a near fatal accident, which left her being dragged unconscious from the bottom of a diving pool in Russia, Monique Gladding went on to achieve her childhood dream of competing at the Olympics. A promising young gymnast, Monique represented South Africa at just 11 years old. Knee surgery in her mid-teens, put a stop to her gymnastic ambitions but not her thirst for elite sport. She adapted her talents to the sport of diving, reaching national and international podiums within a few years. In 2000, at 18 years old, Monique moved to London to pursue her Olympic dreams and, on 27 July 2012, she walked into the London Olympic stadium where 85,000 people screamed and cheered for Team GB.
Post-London Olympics Monique was immediately admitted for a spinal fusion as a result of her accident in Russia. It was at that point that she realised that although she had reached her sporting dream it had left her broken physically, mentally and emotionally. This marked the beginning of her quest for optimal living through nutrition, balance, health and wellbeing. Monique became a certified Nutritional Health Coach and combined this with her athletic experience to help others achieve their own health and fitness goals.
Since moving to New Zealand in 2015, Monique’s health journey has continued to evolve with plant-based nutrition becoming increasingly important for her and her family. The significant health benefits her family has experienced, coupled with the sustainability and ethics of a plant-based lifestyle were key considerations when Monique came to creating a range of vegan body care products called @one
Raniera Rewiri (Te Whakatohea, Tuhoe) – also known as the Plant-Based Maori – is the founder of Tupuanuku, a vegan market stall and catering company based in Whakatane. ‘The only reason it was Plant-Based Maori is because the Maori Vegan was taken up!’ Raniera Rewiri, who calls himself the Plant-Based Maori, certainly isn’t the only Maori vegan out there.
Raniera went vegan on 1 May, 2017 – but it was only supposed to be for a month. His curiosity was sparked by his best mate, Te Haunui Tuna, who was vegan for the animals. It was his integrity that won Raniera over: ‘He never forced anything on me, let alone anybody.’
So in November 2016, he decided to transition to veganism. He started doing his research – and that was when he began to uncover the truth. ‘It was pretty overwhelming!’ What really convinced him, though, was the environment – and this was something he was able to connect to his world as a Maori. ‘The strongest connection I could find was the negative impacts it’s having on the environment,’ he says. ‘As Maori, we really depend on our environment. If you were to ask anyone who is Maori where we’re from, we all know where we’re from, we all know our mountains, our maunga, we all know our rivers, our awa, our marae where we come from – but one thing we’re not understanding is our riverways are extremely sick.’ His own awa, Waiotahe, is polluted. It is from that river that his ancestors ate. ‘It’s contaminated. Once, we called that the pataka kai, which is our food basket.’
I enjoy being vegan/vegetarian for many reasons including health benefits and pride in lowering my carbon foot print, because I think every bit helps. I enjoy thinking outside the square when preparing food and expanding my culinary knowledge, using that knowledge whilst sharing vegan cuisine with friends and family. I enjoy living my life in a non-selfish manner. I choose this lifestyle because thats all it is to me. I want to live a life I enjoy, I want to eat food I love and it just so happens animals are not included on my plate. I try to live without ignorance, in doing so I found I started caring about more than just myself.
Bonjour! My name is ROLAND MEDER.
For nearly 30 years, I lived in New Caledonia where I taught English, had my own Yoga studio and accompanied musicians, singers and dancers on the piano.
I love Vegan food and philosophy and strive to continuously evolve in this way. L’Amour, Aroha.
Hi my name is Rebecca Faavaoga and I am New Zealand Born, half Tongan and half Scottish. I am married to a beautiful Samoan man and the love of our lives, our 4 year old plant based baby since birth.
I say plant-based because all we eat is plants and veges. No dairy/eggs/gluten or meat. Our Baby Judah is the reason we changed everything about our lives from our diet, to our washing powder, any skin/hair products, and becoming as natural as possible.
The reason for all these changes was because he is allergic to Dairy/wheat/eggs/any nuts. As a newborn, he had severe eczema that he would rip his skin apart till he bled in which he would become infected having many visits to the doctors and Emergency for allergic reactions.
Nothing the doctors gave helped. This broke my heart seeing my baby suffer when he didn’t need to as his condition was due to my poor choices. The first 2 years of his life I breastfed him exclusively having no food at all in which I had to change my diet and continued to breastfeed him to 3 years of age with food. Yes it was a great sacrifice to make and not easy at all with not many options out there for our diet but what mother wouldn’t do this for their child.
I was introduced to a Naturopath/Nutritionist, Barbara O’Neil, where I became aware of what we ate and how it affects our bodies with the science behind it. What she taught I applied and saw immediate results. My husband soon changed his diet as he began to be educated on seeing the positive changes through us.
He was convinced how a plant-based diet excelled us both in our physical activities as we also do ultra marathons. He continues that journey today with the 100km Tarawera ultra marathon coming up and even running in jandals – island styles!! He is breaking the stereotype that Pacific islanders cannot live on veges alone together with endurance events.
The biggest benefit of a plant-based diet for me was finally receiving a breakthrough in my mental health as I have battled depression and suicide attempts from the age of 10 years old. We could not deny the powerful changes food has made as we continue to complete fitness events that are not normally done on a plant based diet and felt amazing recovering super fast!
Kia orana! Ko ROSIE PUKEITI toku ingoa.
I am a New Zealand born Cook Islander working in the early childhood sector as a Head Teacher for infants. I became vegan in April, 2017 initially for health reasons. However, as I researched more on the vegan movement, I became more aware of the other two key benefits of veganism, which are of course for the animals and the environment. The ethics of being vegan, of not wanting to contribute to a cruel industry is now my main reason for continuing my vegan journey. I have a twelve year old son who shares in my belief and conviction of the vegan lifestyle.
The best thing about being vegan is knowing that your lifestyle doesnt contribute to the exploitation, suffering and death of countless non human animals. Being vegan is better for your health, more environmentally friendly, and most importantly its the morally right thing to do. Sam runs Creative Compass. Creative Compass is an international vegan marketing agency founded by Sam and Maddie, partners in both business and in life.
Tena Koutou, my name is SEMISI SIKEI, I am 29 years of age and living in Wellington.
I’m of Maori & Tongan Decent. My mother is Maori from a small place called Otorohanga from the Ngati Maniapoto Tribe. My father is Tongan and also from a small place called Hofoa & Masilamea.
I was born & raised up in Central Auckland. Went to Mount Albert Grammar School. I have a huge passion for performing whether it be dance, acting or musical. I have accomplished a lot of things in my 29 years but there is many more things for me to accomplish.
Becoming a vegan didnt ever cross my mind until one day, I had a good think about my health and what I wanted to change within my family.
I decided in late 2019 that in 2020, I would change the things that I eat.
Fast forward to Feb 2020, I started my journey on becoming a vegan. Being a pacific Islander and living at home was really hard to not eat what islanders love to eat. But I pulled through all the birthday feast and big church functions.
My family weren’t on board of me becoming a vegan, they called me names and said I was being silly just because I wanted to change the way I ate.
The reasons why I chose to go vegan are:
– Healthier life
– More Energy
– Better for the climate
– Felt sorry for the animals
And many many more.
I have recently started up an Instagram where I capture all the vegan meals I eat & where you can find them & just all things Vegan
You can catch me at: Poly.Vegan
Even if you have any questions don’t be shy to flick me a message
Ma te wa.
I used to think about the ethics of veganism, before going vegan, but I wasn’t quite sure how to make the shift. In the end, it was when I met my vegan partner that I was able to effortlessly adopt a vegan whole food plant based diet.
I’ve been vegan since 2017 and I have experienced tremendous health benefits. I even quit my asthma medications. I’ve never wanted any animals to suffer, so I’m proud to be a vegan advocate.
Tame Iti is a chameleon. He’s also a teetotaller, vegan, cyclist and doting koro — and a former radio DJ with a thing for house music.
He is also part of a neighbourhood watch group at home to “sort out the riff raff”, is into his art and cooking and plans to compete in the Iron Maori later this year.
“My strategy has changed and my attitude. I am a little older and wiser. I am a kaumatua now. It’s a big role, a huge responsibility, but I think the iwi still trusts my ability and they are keen for me to be part of the process and I am keen for whatever role that I will always be there.”
Becoming a vegan brings so many benefits because not only do you stop supporting needless cruelty towards farmed animals, but also help their wild cousins by not accelerating the depletion of their environments caused by catastrophic farming practices. Add to this the proven benefits to health and well being for humans and you have great way to live. I thought at first that the transition might be difficult, but I’ve been surprised how easily I enjoyed it – not least the discovery of delicious new foods and the sense of joining others in making a contribution to a better future for all.
Funny guy, snap chat dude and vegan sausage connoisseur!
Seasoned judge of past Vegan Society sausage awards, after growing up on a dairy farm he’s now vegan.
Tom takes vegan food very seriously and he brings to the judges’ table his acute palate, sharp wit and eager appetite!
Kia Orana! My name is Tonya Marriott and I live in Christchurch.
I am a Vegan mother of 3 and we hail from the Cooks in Aitutaki, Tonga and New Zealand.
I love cooking delicious Vegan meals for my family as they grow and thrive. Mauri Ora.
I’m Touvai Fiefia He Matavai Moui Poloniati, a 30 year old chef from South Auckland.
I’ve been cooking all my life, starting with learning traditional Tongan food at home, and going on to study culinary from age 15 and onwards. I’ve been travelling the world and working in Hong Kong, Australia, Canada & New Zealand to expand my knowledge and perfect my craft.
I love cooking Vegan food as I feel it’s important to eat in a way that’s environmentally conscious and believe plant-based food is the future of global cuisine. I also really enjoy the challenge of creating dishes that are just as tasty and comforting as non-vegan food, but with cheap, humble & generally healthier ingredients.
Young NZ actress Thomasin McKenzie is the daughter of actress Miranda Harcourt and director Stuart McKenzie. Thomasin recently starred as Jewish teen hideaway Elsa Korr in Jo Jo Rabbit, as Tom in internationally celebrated US indie film “Leave No Trace” — and as Pixie in “Shortland Street”. Thomasin became a vegan through her concern for animal and conservation ethics; and health.
For me veganism quite simply makes sense, on all levels. You can’t pick a hole in the case for veganism! I think the best way to advocate it is to be a living breathing example of a healthy, happy, compassionate vegan, which is what I try to do. And the best thing about being vegan? Well apart from the delicious vegan mint slice at Revel cafe (!) it would be being able to look into any animals eyes, and say with conviction and complete honesty “you don’t need to fear me”.
All Black TJ Perenara is vegan, and an ambassador for Kiwi plant-based protein brand Plan*t. TJ Perenara says lessons he learned as an overweight youngster helped improve his relationship with food, and ultimately eased his transition to a plant-based diet.
He is now passionate about sustainability and playing his part to help the planet.
And getting enough protein certainly doesn’t appear to be a problem for Perenara. The 30-year-old, who made his debut for the All Blacks in 2014, has enjoyed an illustrious career as a high-performance athlete without touching chicken breast or lean mince since 2016.
I am committed to a better world for animals and children – professionally, my life’s work has been to support children’s literacy by empowering them and their teachers with the tools needed for reading success. Personally, my commitment to animals means I have been vegan for over twenty years, and have raised my four children the same way.
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