World Meat Free Week is just another week for Lyndsay Veganforlife - she hasn't eaten meat for 18 years.

The cause is so dear to her that she formally changed her name. But becoming vegan happened for health reasons while she was living in Melbourne.

Before that she'd had a Standard Australian Diet (SAD). Then she gave up meat, dairy and eggs, and fish soon after. Until then she had never heard the word vegan or eaten a lentil.

She wasn't working and threw herself into exploring a new culinary world. She did all the cooking because the man she was married to had a physical disability.


She held five-course dinner parties and he said it was like living in a restaurant.

"The cooking is so exciting when you get involved in new stuff."

She joined Animal Liberation Victoria and went on protests and bus tours - and she found out how farm animals are treated.

"Cows just keep giving milk all the time because their babies are taken away every year. They keep giving until they are worn out and then they're killed."

There are 1.9 million male calves killed every year in New Zealand, and Veganforlife sponsors a Hamilton sanctuary that cares for the calves and rehomes them. She said chicken farming was no better.

"Broiler chickens are all killed at six to eight weeks old. They're selectively bred to put on heaps of weight in a very short time. By eight weeks they have to kill them because their legs collapse and they can't reach their food."

It was hard for a vegan to find places to eat out in Melbourne 18 years ago. Now there are lots, Veganforlife said.

She moved to Wellington 15 years ago and threw herself into the cause there, helping at vegan sausage sizzles and protests.


Since moving to Whanganui in November she's been active on our own vegan/vegetarian Facebook pages, and has organised events like vegan cheese tastings.

Moving to Whanganui to pay off her mortgage, she expected to find a "vegan desert". Instead there's vegan food at several eateries and even someone who wants to start a "ve-gang".

These days the new resident is a part-time, self-employed financial administrator. She doesn't do much fancy cooking.

She makes her own bread and eats roasted and steamed vegetables, fruit, vegan yoghurt and desserts with chia seeds. Favourite dishes are a one-pot pasta with a creamy garlic sauce, or a pizza with vegan cheese, olives and artichoke hearts.

According to the New Zealand Vegan Society the average Kiwi eats 72kg of meat a year, not counting fish. Growing the meat takes more resources than growing plant food, and a world with increasing population will not be able to provide meat for everyone.

A new study in the journal Science concludes that ditching or reducing animal products in the diet is the single most effective way to reduce one's environmental impact - including one's greenhouse gas emissions.

Some people are vegan for purely health or environmental reasons, Veganforlife said. For her it's about the treatment of animals.

"Once you know about the cruelty you can't unknow and you couldn't be involved in it."