Joel Maxwell is a former senior writer at Stuff and now works for the New Zealand Nurses’ organisation.
OPINION: I must admit that I am aware of being a Māori vegan.
Given our stereotypical public image as a wild indigenous people, I should munch through wild pork like it’s balls of cookie dough.
I mean, life for Māori is apparently a meaty turducken sandwich. Our kuia carry shells in their purses to dab the eyebrows of angry Mokopuna; rangatahi decorate their bedroom walls with posters of beef jerky; steaming boils are drawn fresh from the hāngi in every Māori home.
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* Is plant-based fast food really enough for vegans?
Well, I eat different legumes and legumes.
Has veganism ever been cool? The answer is clearly no.
Nevertheless, in times of climate change, we have a duty to rethink our meat-eating habits.
There seems to be a widespread view that veganism runs counter to indigenous rights—that it is a privileged Pākehā perspective that would transform and belittle our culture.
I say large scale farming is against our culture. And I would ask Māori to consider where our land has gone and why – through confiscation and ridiculous legislation – it was taken until we collectively owned a single-digit percentage of what we once fully occupied.
I can tell you it wasn’t taken for the huge aotearoa tofu plantations. No, it was systematically broken up, cleared and turned into farmland. gone forever Steadfast colonists detonated an environmental bomb over this unique ecosystem, which for so long stood alone as Taonga, cut off from the world.
Today, even considering replanting with native bush or re-creating wetlands is seen by some panicked farmers as a waste of “productive” land.
Like we’re about to run out of cows.
I agree that vegans should never tell indigenous people what they can and can’t eat. It smells of entitlement.
Our culture has been irreparably damaged by these attitudes — by generations being physically attacked at school for speaking our Reo, by swathes of our people being forced to chase jobs out of our homes, leaving fewer and fewer people to go around to burn the fires in the houses.
Today many of us live in cities, cut off from our marae and the bush, sea and rivers that once fed us.
Nō reira, e noho tawhiti ana te nuinga o tātou – Ngāi Māori – mai i ōu tātou haukāinga: nā te pēhitanga o ngā ture, ngā tāhae whenua o Ngāti Pākehā/tauiwi rānei.
(And so, by the theft of land and the laws of Pākehā, we live far from our homeland.)
I’m not going to tell people to be vegan. I’m not your mom or dad ordering you to finish your veggies – and that’s doubly so for the Māori, many of whom struggle to make ends meet on weekly grocery bills ignited by inflation.
But perhaps some Māori – if they are doing well and could afford it – are trying plant-based diets. If only to reclaim autonomy from landowners who, in their own way, have colonized our thinking about what is important and necessary in our own time.
Farmers are not the “backbone” of this country; they alone do not embody his natural spirit.
They do. you always did
This land was taken from your ancestors, and their – your – loss paved the way for the benefit of others.
I don’t eat meat because I couldn’t kill this animal myself. I just couldn’t. Nor would I pay for someone else to get blood on their hands to do it for me. That might make me a weak person, I don’t know.
I know that doesn’t make me a weak Māori person. My whakapapa is intact, even as our ideas about how to live in this ao hurihuri (ever-changing world) are evolving.