Who We Are


Our Mission Statement:

To increase vegetarianism in order to reduce cruelty to animals, improve human health, protect the environment and preserve world food resources by encouraging plant-based choices through education, information, support, campaigning and research.

The NZ Vegetarian Society was established in 1943, and we’ve been working hard since then!

Here are some current members of the Executive Committee and National Office:

Julia Clements – President

I am the NZVS 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.

 NZ Vegetarian Society's Treasurer

Susan Skarsholt – Vice President

I have been on the NZVS committee for many years, 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.”


 Susan Skarsholt

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.

NZ Vegetarian Society President

Sandi Wilson – Treasurer & NZVS’s Graphic Designer

I was born and raised vegetarian and (through my parents) have been involved with the Vegetarian Society from a young age. I have been vegan since I was 24, after attending an animal rights conference in Auckland. I am currently involved with the society both through my membership on the committee and through volunteer graphic design work.

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 more and more in modern mainstream culture I feel the world is slowly beginning to shift towards a more compassionate vegetarian lifestyle.


Stephanie Lane – National Manager & NZVS Approved Manager

I have been a member, volunteer and Auckland Vegetarian Mother’s Group co-ordinator of the NZ Vegetarian Society since 2002. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 16 and am now a vegan mother of three energetic vegetarian boys and a menagerie of animals.

Before children, I was a veterinarian and have owned and managed a vet clinic.  I’m a passionate animal advocate and am enjoying putting my knowledge and business skills to good use for the NZ Vegetarian Society.

Favourite Quote:  “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.”  ~Alice Walker

 Stephanie Lane, NZVS Approved Manager

Jeanette Blackburn – National Executive Member & Office Administrator

I have been the secretary for NZVS for many years and currently work in the Auckland Centre two days a week.  I am passionate about the 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!

 Jeanette Blackburn

Viktoria Lencses Spear – National Office Co-ordinator

Originally from Hungary, I have an educational background in Economics and Environmental Management.

Although growing up with animals made me care about, adore 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.

 Viktoria Lencses Spear

Athol Wilson – Database Manager & National Executive Member

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 where I have performed the duties of Treasurer, and Vice President. In addition I also look after the membership system.

On a personal note I take delight in preparing – and of course eating – yummy vegetarian food!

Athol Wilson

Janie Roberts – National Executive Member


A long time vegetarian, Janie joined our Executive Committee in 2014.  Being very protective of animals, she’s keen to promote vegetarianism.  Janie offers great ideas, enthusiasm and a willing helping hand.


Caroline Jack – Wellington Branch President

Before taking on my current role in the Society a few years ago, I was the Wellington Branch 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 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 branch has been focussing 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 don’t have a favourite quote but 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.

 NZ Vegetarian Society's Wellington Branch President

Yolanda Soryl – Christchurch Vegetarian Center President & Co-ordinator

I am the Coordinator of the very active Christchurch Vegetarian Centre, National Coordinator of Vegetarian Families for the NZVS and Vice President of the National Office, and have set up and run many veggie groups including vegetarian families and youth groups.

As an educator, I have enjoyed addressing public groups on many occasions about a vegetarian/vegan way of life. I have raised 4 vegan children and been veggie for 30+ years.

 Yolanda Sorl

Nicky Owers – Media Spokesperson

I have been involved with the Vegetarian Society for more than 20 years and currently am the media spokesperson, based in Wellington. After being vegetarian for 29 years and for the last 17 or so mostly managing to be vegan, I have a vast library of easy and fool-proof vegan recipes, many of which have found their way into non-vegetarian homes. In the last year I have also gone wheat-free, which has started me on a whole new series of cookery trials and experiments.

 Nicky Owners


Judith Howe

Previous Long Standing National Executive Member

It has been my pleasure to serve on the NZVS committee since I was 18 years of age, 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 carnivorous and barbaric to continue to kill and eat other living creatures in the 21st century?!

 Judith Howe

Joan Wilson

Previous Long Standing National Executive Member

I became vegetarian for ethical reasons as I could not justify killing and eating animals when I could survive perfectly well as a vegetarian.  I was on the NZVS Committee for about 30 years until 2013 and feel that vegetarianism is the diet that will be the norm in the future

 Joan Wilson
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