The plant-based posse (Image: Tina Tiller)

Plant power: The Spinoff food section goes vegan (for a week)

Covering Climate Now: Why we’re saying adios to animal products (just for a little while). 


The Spinoff’s participation in Covering Climate Now is made possible thanks to Spinoff Members. Join us here!


As part of The Spinoff’s commitment to Covering Climate Now, a week-long worldwide initiative aimed at strengthening the media’s focus on climate change, the food section is going vegan. This week, we’ll publish only recipes that don’t feature animal products, and our stories will have a vegan bent too.  

If you’re thinking, “What does a vegan diet have to do with climate change?”, where you been bro?! As I wrote in this piece last year, science tells us that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact. 

So that’s why we’re doing it. But first, a few caveats. Many vegans don’t like when you say things like “going vegan for a week”, because it’s a lifelong commitment, not something you can dip in and out of. Fair point, but plant-based doesn’t mean a lot to a lot of people, and saying “publishing only content related to food that doesn’t include animal products” is a bit of a mouthful. 

By doing this for just a week, we’re likely to be accused of cynical bandwagon-jumping, of taking a tokenistic approach to a hugely important issue. Again, fair point, but at least it’s something, right? On that note, we’re applying this to diet only. I’m wearing leather boots as I write. Sorry, but it is what it is. 

You’ll also notice that Freedom Farms ads remain on all our stories. Yes, the food section’s sponsor is a company that sells (ethically farmed) pork and eggs, but it’s also a company that wants to encourage debate around what we eat and how it affects the world around us. We don’t see the two as incompatible. 

A few of us here at The Spinoff have committed to following a vegan diet for the week – that means no dairy, no eggs, no meat, no fish. Initially 10 or so Spinoffers signed on to this challenge, but it’s dwindled to four, not including the three real-life vegans in the office (shout out Alice Webb-Liddall, Natalie Wilson and Josie Adams, the latter of whom brought vegan treats into the office for us today!)

Contrary to popular belief, Scrabble tiles are not actually vegan. Image: veganliftz.com

As for the non-participants, Catherine McGregor failed before she’d even begun by adding cream to her coffee this morning. Simon Day said he was participating “in heart and soul” but then had bacon for lunch. A few declined to join in from the outset, spouting excuses like “I have a newborn baby, life is hard enough as it is” (x2); “I was vegan for six years, I’ve done my bit” (fair point); “I’ll be on holiday in Bali/Fiji/Queenstown”; and “fuck no, I don’t want to”.

I broached banning animal products from the office but didn’t get much support, so cow’s milk remains in our fridge. I’m advocating for the weekly Nando’s delivery to be vegan, but this may incite a full-blown rebellion. Will keep you posted. 

How are the rest of us going to fare? Of the four non-vegans giving it a hoon, Jihee Junn leans that way anyway. “I’m not too worried seeing as the only real non-plant based food I eat is eggs and small amounts of cheese/mayo,” she says. “Trying to consciously be vegan just means I have to pause for thought every so often before a meal (ie, I was going to buy a wrap from a cafe today but realised there’s probs some mayo in there).”

As for me, I am pretty much vegetarian, but I sometimes eat kaimoana. I am fond of delicious dairy products, but a week off won’t kill me. I bought coconut yoghurt and some sort of roasted almond/oat milk concoction called Nutty Bruce (good name) to go on my muesli this morning, and got oat milk in my coffee. It tasted fine, but I was not expecting my usual $4.20 flat white in a keep cup to skyrocket to $5.70! Oh well, think of what I’ll be saving on cheese. 

It’ll be hardest, I think, for Tina Tiller and Alex Casey, both of whom are carnivores. “I’m low-key freaking!” says Tina. “I revolve my eating around meat cause that’s all I’ve known, so let’s see how this shit’s gonna go. I feel like I’m gonna get cranky from being tired and not having protein.”

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Alex is at home sick, but messaged me this morning in a panic about whether she could have a lemon and honey drink. It’s a complex issue, but after consultation with my vegan colleagues, we decided we’re all good with honey, because it’s not, well, fucking the environment like other animal products. (Yes, I am expecting to be told otherwise in the Facebook comments.)

So enjoy this week’s plant-based content, and keep an eye out for an update about how we’re getting on in a few days’ time. 

This is the first post in a series: check out the midweek update and our final thoughts too. 

The Spinoff’s participation in Covering Climate Now is made possible thanks to the contributions of Spinoff Members. Join The Spinoff Members to help us do more important journalism.


The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.


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