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Ban Animal Agriculture

Direct Action Everywhere New Zealand (DxE NZ) is calling for a ban on animal agriculture from 2025 for reasons relating to public and individual health.

Demonstration outside the office of the Ministry of Health in Wellington, 24 July 2020

DxE NZ is pleased to announce that after holding weekly demonstrations outside the Ministry of Health offices in Great South Road Auckland for the last 9 weeks, senior Ministry officials have opened dialogue and have been taking our concerns seriously.

On 22nd May, Direct Action Everywhere sent a letter to Dr Ashley Bloomfield outlining our concerns over the human health impacts of animal agriculture. This featured future pandemics, including a potential pandemic that the CDC in Atlanta is keeping a watching brief on, and the cost of increased mortality and morbidity from a diet heavy in animal products. DxE NZ is also concerned about the toll that animal slaughter places on the mental and physical health of slaughterhouse workers.

Cortnee Butler, member of DxE NZ and former slaughterhouse worker recounts her experiences:

“I worked in a slaughter facility in Hawkes Bay for 6 months. My experience there has traumatised me to such an extent that I am now on a sickness benefit and I am undergoing treatment for PTSD.

I still have nightmares that feature the panicked animals I witnessed. The worst thing I witnessed was a staff member slamming a metal gate on a sheep's leg, crushing it. When I confronted the staff member about what they did, they claimed "they're just dumb animals. It's not like they can feel it."

Alcoholism was common. And likely contributed to the aggression of staff. Every staff member I spoke to drank after work. Either to forget, or for some comfort. I hope that no animal, human or non-human, ever has to experience these horror houses ever again.”

On 26th June, DxE NZ received a reply from Dr Bloomfield describing our concerns as “worthy of discussion and debate in both the health sector and the wider community”, but stating that the present COVID 19 pandemic (initiated and spread through slaughterhouses), is currently taking all his time.

On 26 July, representatives of DxE NZ met with Acting Deputy Director-General of Health Megan McCoy and Manager of Corporate Security Paul van den Broek in Wellington. They appeared receptive to our concerns, and especially the issue of slaughterhouse workers’ mental health. The cost of mental health treatment, not to mention the economic costs of world-wide lock downs, is essentially a public subsidy to the animal agriculture industry.

“We are impressed with the firm yet compassionate way the Ministry and the government have minimized damage from the present pandemic,” says DxE spokesperson Dr Michael Morris. “We look forward to them showing the same firm commitment to preventing zoonotic pandemics in the future by implementing a ban on their cause.”

A report published this year and commissioned by the Vegan Society of Aotearoa New Zealand highlights progress being made in manufacturing and marketing plant-based alternatives to animal agriculture.

“This shows us that a transition to a healthier, more compassionate, less destructive and less pandemic-causing plant-based economy is possible,” says Dr Morris. “In fact, if our planet and species is to survive in its present form, it is mandatory.”

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