First term Bay Of Plenty Regional Councillor Kat Macmillan puts her ideals where her mouth is - literally. As a happily married mother of two strapping KIwi lads, Kat is a committed 40-year vegan veteran who walks her talk at the local politics coalface.
Whilst she doesn't have the same profile as US Senator Cory Booker or NY Mayor Eric Adams she none-the-less is making waves in the Bay Of Plenty seaside city of Tauranga, New Zealand.
Recently she penned a personal message via her LinkedIn profile dealing with the rather sensitive subject of plant-based vegan persecution; a reality for many who've chosen to not eat animal flesh or use their by-products.
Kat Macmillan- BOP Regional Councillor
Here's what she had to say:
" Anyone vegetarian or vegan, particularly in the west, will have almost certainly experienced a level of verbal abuse for their choice of diet. Thankfully times are changing and it’s becoming more ‘acceptable’ to make diet-conscious choices that are pro the planet, the animals and our own health.
Having been plant-based for forty years, I can pretty much say I’ve had just about every snide comment, attempt to entice me to eat meat, aggressive verbal arguing when unasked for and outright told; ‘I hate vegans’. People have tried to shove bacon in my mouth, have told me I’m only pretending I don’t want to eat meat and I’m secretly desperate for it. What intrigues me though is the urge people seem to have to justify their own meat-eating when I haven’t asked for their justification.
Many people seem intent on creating an argument or debate as soon as they get a whiff that I may be vegan.
Vegans and vegetarians on the whole aren’t trying to be difficult. Most would prefer to quietly follow their ethical choices without making a fuss. There seems to be an issue some people have about people not following the status quo with their eating habits. And yet, the facts are there, the writing is on the wall; From climate change to forest fires to human rights abuses, the global industrial meat industry leaves a trail of destruction all over the world. Millions of people's lives depend on a dramatic reduction in the consumption of meat and dairy. And it’s not just red meat that’s the problem.
People often accuse vegans of wanting to put farmers out of business. This line to me is absurd. People having meaningful lives with fulfilling jobs is extremely important to me, it’s the transition from the type of farming and the intensification of farming to green jobs and ethical, sustainable practice that needs to happen.
Farmers have always been adaptable and now it’s time to change again, shift from the rapid shift into intensification, away from it and into the production of plants, legumes and crops. But farmers cannot do this alone, this needs the support of governments and the banks. Shifting away from intensive animal agriculture needs to be subsidised and supported. Currently, we are propping up intensification and encouraging it.
Having had a stint in a campaigning role for animal welfare some years ago, I’ve been exposed to reams of graphic images and footage of farm animal suffering that I simply cannot wipe from my memory. This along with on-farm experience has meant I’ve had to live with a level of PTSD from seeing the reality of intensive animal agriculture for the bulk of my adult life. For me, I have to make a conscious effort to disconnect myself from what’s on other people’s plates when I’m eating with friends in a restaurant. Not once though have I picked an argument, tried to mock them or tear them down.
Vegans strongly believe in live and let live, isn’t that something to be proud of?'
Not only wonderful words of personal wisdom based on experience but also we hope some motivation for those who are choosing to step away/aside from the so-called mainstream narrative that its OK to eat animals.
For the record Kat's favourite plant-based meal is a a 'lovely' fresh vegan Thai green curry with fried silken tofu broccoli and snow peas topped with freshly picked herbs from the garden.
Kat says she her vegan passion is driving her legacy desires.
'I would love to be able to say that my life played some part in the movement towards the restoration of land and the transition to sustainable, non animal food production and land use. This would have an impact on preventing biodiversity collapse, minimising climate change, protecting freshwater and ending animal suffering', shares Kat.
Perhaps it's time for the vegan voice to be heard at more than regional political level and deliver policy influence at a national level. This will require a pragmatic approach to the problems facing New Zealand's agricultural sector requiring strong guidance and courageous management from people like Kat Macmillan.
Kat can be contacted via the BOP Regional offices in Tauranga.