At a time when values drive many of us in regards how we live, I was interested in the friction recently between living by your values - and the cost of doing so.

This quandary was exemplified recently by a barista north of Auckland.
Living by your values can be a double-edged sword when it comes to business.

It can be sneeringly called virtue signalling by those who don't like it, or it can be revered as showing integrity and principle. Sometimes though, principle costs you.


The North Auckland barista I'm referring to is the one who had his business shut down, purely because he picked values over bottom line. He refused to serve dairy milk with his coffees, because he's an animal rights advocate.

His belief in a plant-based lifestyle meant he couldn't reconcile his animal rights loving self and the sale of cow's milk in his cafe.

He was given notice by the Mangawhai Activity Zone, where his coffee business was situated, that he either gave customers the option of having dairy milk - or he was out.

The usual battle royale of modern times ensued and a petition on was set up asking for him to be allowed to stay.

It garnered 15,000 signatures - which is amusing in itself given it's more than the entire population of Mangawhai (which is home to about 2500people.)

As these things so often do, the cause got momentum. But it didn't change the facts or his reality.

He had to weigh up his business, or his beliefs.
He chose beliefs.

Not only that, but with his business scuppered, he decided to walk 3000km - the length of the country - in bare feet.


It'll take about five months. Why?

To highlight the plight of factory-farmed animals.

You couldn't get a better example of principle over profit.

But is this something to be proud of? Or is he now just a small business casualty who refused to meet customer demand?

Once the adrenaline's gone, and the sore feet and the blisters are in, will he still be enjoying the moral high ground?

Will he be able to continue his crusade and make non-dairy coffees somewhere else?

I believe absolutely in standing up for your values, it's commendable to have such integrity - but is it still laudable when it costs you your business?