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A local arm of New Zealand’s national Vegetarian Society [NZVS] has split away – and set up its own vegan group.

The Christchurch section of the organization, which was associated with NZVS for 15 years, has now established the Christchurch Vegan Society [CVS].

A spokesperson for NZVS said they were surprised by the move, which has resulted in CVS losing a number of assets including its city centre office. NZVS says despite the split it still paid for a major annual event put on by CVS.

Vegetarian or vegan

The split has resulted in some controversy: according to CVS it wanted to rebrand as vegan, but said the NZVS threatened to seize its assets if it did. According to reports, the NZVS rejected CVS’ proposal to change its name to the Vegan Society because it was deemed ‘unconstitutional and exclusive’ of all members.

National Manager Stephanie Lane told local press: “It’s all gone a bit pear shaped. It hasn’t been managed the way it should have – let’s put it that way.

“We said, ‘if you are going to do this you need to understand you won’t be representative anymore’. There’s a mixture of vegetarians and vegans in Christchurch and the ones who have come back to us have said they’re really glad we didn’t rename it vegan.

“The word ‘vegan’ excludes vegetarians, whereas the word ‘vegetarian’ includes vegans.”

Stick together

But CVS President Yolanda Soryl said: “It’s never been a secret that we operate on vegan principles …but we really do mean it when we say we welcome anyone.

“We’ve had a big effort in the last five years to bring our society towards veganism and, as we’re not the largest society, we want vegetarians and vegans to stick together.

“We’re hoping [members] will stay as members of the vegetarian society but maybe they will want to be part of ours as well.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.