Cruelty-Free Consumption In New Zealand
This survey of 157 veg*ns in New Zealand explored a range of issues concerning cruelty-free living, meat consumption and avoidance, fur clothing, and “cruelty-free sex,” which is the rejection of meat eaters as intimate partners. The study is subtitled, “A National Report on the Perspectives and Experiences of Vegetarians and Other Ethical Consumers.”
The key findings of this research include the following: “Rejecting New Zealand’s “Clean, Green” Image” Many participants noted a learning curve from childhood/adolescence to adulthood that involved relating the meat they ate with the animals present in their lives in other ways. Often this was precipitated by some traumatic event involving animals. Also with this realization came a reappraisal of New Zealand and the “clean, green” image they held of the area as a child (or prior to immigration) had chanted into a negative one, often attributed to an awareness of animal farming practices in the country.
Continuum of Ethical Consumption: There were various levels of concern about animal welfare and animal “rights” among the participants. Some were concerned about factory farming and vivisection, while others were concerned about pet-keeping. Still others preferred organic or non-factory farmed animal products.
Devoted to Compassion and Non-Violence: The ethical consumers studied were “highly conscious and critical thinkers who questioned the social, economic, and cultural norms of the dominant culture.” The most committed consumers go to great efforts to consume ethically.
Unanimous Opposition to Factory Farming: Participants were unanimously opposed to intensive farming practices. In this study, free-range was the “bottom line” of ethical consumption.
Divided Over Possums: Views on possum fur were divisive, with those opposed to the slaughter usually, but not always, being vegans who identify as animal rights supporters. Those in favor of killing possums were usually, but not always, vegetarians and non-vegetarians self identifying as “greenies.”
Women Against the Dairy Industry: Attitudes toward milk depend on the extent of knowledge about dairy farming and milk production. Those who consumed milk were more likely to think that milk is healthy for humans and that dairy cows are well-treated.
Dilemmas for Vegans: Vegans identified several key dilemmas in their attempt to maintain strict standards of ethical consumption including vegan shoes (more expensive, less comfortable), the purchase of pet food, and alcohol.
Growing Acceptance of Vegetarianism Versus Continued Marginalization of Vegetarians: The majority of participants believed that vegetarianism has become more widespread and mainstream in recent years, though vegetarianism has remained marginalized within New Zealand culture.
Potential for “Niche Markets” Targeting Ethical Consumers: Participants identified consumer gaps waiting for cruelty-free businesses to address them including cruelty free leather (from animals who have died naturally), vegetarian/vegan takeaways, more strict vegetarian restaurants, more vegan/vegetarian packaged and frozen meals, and more non-leather footwear.