Maori Communities Are Shifting to Vegan Diets

July 7, 2019

Māori communities across New Zealand are connecting with veganism.

Kirsty Dunn, a University of Canterbury doctoral scholar, has conducted extensive research into Māori people and plant-based ethics. From her observations on various social media outlets, she has concluded that an increasing number of Māori men and women are engaging with plant-based lifestyles.

She refers to Māori veganism as kaimangatanga, which, she maintains, “stands on its own as a decolonial food ethic.”

She says in her paper “Kaimangatanga: Māori Perspectives on Veganism and Plant-Based Kai” that kaimangatanga is a unique Māori response to the exploitation of animals and the environment, and can also be seen a “powerful decolonial act.”

Standing Against Dairy

Polynesian settlers discovered New Zealand around 700 years ago, developing Māori culture. In the mid-1800s, it was colonized by European settlers. Many dairy farms are now situated on confiscated Māori land, so many members of the communities now see living plant-based as a stand against colonization.

“In the Māori worldview, the rivers, lakes, and forests are our ancestors. They are part of us and we are part of them,” Lauren O’Connell Rapira, a Māori woman and vegan of four years, told The Spinoff. “Right now, our rivers and forests are sick, and intensive animal agriculture, and especially dairy in New Zealand, have a played a huge role in that.”

She added, “by not eating meat and dairy, I don’t contribute as much to the sickness of my ancestors.” 

Rapira is not alone in her belief that buying into the meat and dairy industry is a contradiction of Māori principles. Waimirirangi Koopu-Stone also spoke to The Spinoff about veganism and transitioning to a harm-free lifestyle.

“The first thing I acknowledge when I introduce myself are the mountains and sacred waterways in which I descend. I draw strength from my many waterways: my awa, Waikato; my moana, Mokau; and I source energy from my many maunga,” she said.

“These elements make up my tuakiri as a young Māori woman,” she added. “It’s hypocritical to me to hold these aspects of my being at such high stature, and turn around and consciously make a choice that is harmful to them.”


 

Summary

Article Name

Maori Communities Are Shifting to Vegan Diets

Description

More and more Maori communities are adopting vegan diets for ethical and environmental reasons; it’s also seen as an act of decolonization.

Author

Charlotte Pointing

Publisher Name

LIVEKINDLY

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