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Who We Are

Meet the people who run the NZ Vegetarian Society – who we are and why we do what we do for vegetarianism.

National Executive Committee

Julia Clements – President

I believe that a plant-based diet is the way of the future and our society is vital for providing support and education for individuals and families on the path to a kinder, healthier world.

I am a third generation NZ vegetarian and was a Civil Engineer and project manager before becoming the mother of two healthy fourth generation NZ vegetarian children.

Coming from a vast extended family of vegetarians, I have a rather unique perspective and have enjoyed the luxury of being the “norm” in my own family.

Margaret Johns – Secretary & Magazine Editor

I held the role of President for many years and am also editor of our magazine Vegetarian Living NZ. Over the years I have observed numerous changes including the growth of awareness and general acceptance of a plant-based diet and the use of the internet for information gathering and dissemination. It is rewarding to see the growing number of third and fourth generation healthy, vegetarian/vegan kiwis.

Through education via schools and the media, it is great to see the youth of today making the connection between protection of the environment, the protection of animals and the food we eat.

Jeanette Blackburn – Vice President

I have been the secretary for NZVS for many years and have also worked in the National Office. I am passionate about the NZ Vegetarian Society and it being the authority on vegetarian living. I have been a vegetarian for over 30 years and believe that setting an example in this way, no matter how small, is enough to make a positive difference to somebody!

 

 Viktória Lencsés Spear – National Office Co-ordinator & National Executive / Treasurer  & Nutritionist

Originally from Hungary, I have an educational background in Economics and Environmental Management and also have a diploma in Nutritional Science.

Although growing up with animals made me care about and love animals, I only “made the connection” and became vegan in my early 20’s. From then on I educated myself on animal rights issues, the health benefits of plant-based diets and the impact on the environment. I have been active as an advocate for many years and love to help people on their path towards a more compassionate lifestyle.

I live with my kiwi husband, whom I “veganised” several years ago, and the most beautiful cat, Rusty.

Caroline Jack – Wellington Centre President

Before becoming the Wellington Centre President several years ago, I had been the Treasurer since some time in the 1990’s. I became vegetarian in the mid-1980’s, not long after I heard about the concept for the first time from a friend. I am particularly keen on the NZ Vegetarian Society’s role of getting vegetarians together and providing the opportunity for people in the community to find out more about vegetarian lifestyles.

Our Wellington Centre is focused on organising regular social events for people to enjoy and various community events to showcase vegetarian lifestyles. We’ve also set up a Mentoring Programme for new vegetarians and vegans.

I have an interesting observation: The Time magazine’s most influential person of the 20th century was Albert Einstein. The two runners-up were Mohandas Ghandi and F.D. Roosevelt. Einstein and Ghandi were not only both vegetarian but strong advocates of the benefits for all of a vegetarian lifestyle.

Sandi Wilson – NZVS’s Graphic Designer

I was born and raised vegetarian and (through my parents) have been involved with the NZ Vegetarian Society from a young age. I have been vegan since I was 24, after attending an animal rights conference in Auckland. I have served on the National Executive Committee,  been involved through volunteer graphic design work and volunteered at many NZVS stands.

I have always had a strong affection for animals and have never accepted the idea held in general society that taste is a justifiable reason to end the life of another sentient being. With the ethics of meat production, environmental stability and health concerns being brought forward more and more in modern mainstream culture, I feel the world is slowly beginning to shift towards a more compassionate vegetarian lifestyle.

Tegan Atkins – office assistant

I’m an Aussie who is passionate about living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. I believe it is important to support people’s lifestyle and diet choices no matter where they are on their journey – kindness is key to creating a more compassionate world. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism obtained from the Queensland University of Technology and when I’m not working in the NZVS national office I’m either sitting in a cafe or at home writing my first novel, getting a sweat on in the gym, or hiking a stunning NZ trail somewhere! 

Philip McKibbin – Trademark, Marketing and Communications Manager

I grew up in Auckland, and I whakapapa to Ngai Tahu, the largest iwi of the South Island. I studied English and philosophy at the University of Auckland and te reo Maori at Te Wananga o Aotearoa. Prior to working at the NZ Vegetarian Society, I was a teacher; I’m also a writer. I transitioned to a vegetarian diet in my mid-twenties, and a few years later I became a vegan. I believe that vegetarianism and veganism are an expression of love not only to non-human animals, but to the natural environment as well. Among the animals who are especially important to me is Minnie, my parents’ cat. She and I have a very special relationship. She can be very grumpy, though – it might be because I call her Minnie Mouse!

NZ Vegetarian Society symbol

Long-Standing National Executive Members to whom we’re eternally grateful

Longstanding Ex- Executive Committee member of the NZ Vegetarian Society

Athol Wilson – Database Manager

Vegetarianism has been a way of life for me since birth. I find the thought of eating any part of an animal abhorrent. Over the 30+ years I have been on the NZVS committee, I have performed the duties of Treasurer and Vice President. In addition, I also look after the membership system.

 Susan Skarsholt

I have been on the NZVS committee for several decades, and am enthusiastic about spreading information about the vegetarian lifestyle near and far. I am one of 5 children all raised on a vegetarian diet in a time when it was an unusual way to live. These days I and my delightful grandchildren (who are 4th generation vegetarian), blend very well with other like-minded, healthy eating, humane individuals.

I firmly believe in the quote by Gandhi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals.”

Judith Howe

It has been my pleasure to serve on the NZVS committee since I was 18 years of age until 2014, helping to ‘spread the word’. I have participated in many fun festivals, stalls, cooking demos and the like alongside my colleagues.

I was fortunate to be brought up a vegetarian and have followed this lifestyle for nearly 60 years, helping others wherever and in whatever way I can. I believe that we are the ‘normal’ ones by not eating meat. After all, isn’t it obvious that it is barbaric to continue to kill and eat other living creatures in the 21st century?!

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