International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Regional Report - Australia
by Robert Fraser - from IVU News 2001

Australia has not been directly affected by the twin events of Mad Cow Disease and Foot and Mouth Disease which have swept Europe, but the Australian meat industry has rubbed it's hands in glee at the extra product it can export - and as a result, domestic meat prices have gone through the roof. it is to be hoped that this fact alone turns some consumers to consider the vegetar-ian alternative. This report focuses on how three groups are meeting this challenge.

Societies are active in most capital cities, and in the Australian Capital Territory, which includes Canberra, the nation's capital, the ACT VegSoc have been very active of late. They recently created a new pamphlet, which has been widely distributed, and they have created a large e-mail list. They are active at university orientation days and environmental events. Future plans include stalls giving away or selling cheaper information booklets with nutritional information rather than cookbooks. Their experience is that many people approach stalls genuinely wanting to know more about vegetarian nutrition and wanting to become vegetarian but don't know how.

Newly joined IVU member Animals Australia was founded in 1980 by Professor Peter Singer (author of 'Animal Liberation') and Christine Townend (founder of the first Animal Liberation group in Australia). Animals Australia acts as the umbrella organization for around 40 animal protection groups in Australia and New Zealand.

In Australia, as elsewhere, non-human animals are exploited and abused in many ways: for food and clothing, in rodeos and circuses, the killing of native and feral animals, testing cosmetics and household products and in various scientific experiments, including medical procedures and drug testing. Animals Australia has undertaken to be 'THE VOICE FOR ANIMALS', serving on the National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare (NCCAW) and State Animal Welfare Advisory Committees (AWAC). It provides resource material for members fighting local issues such as intensive farming, wildlife farming and duck shooting. it provides resource material on animal welfare issues, and keeps contact with animal welfare overseas. It makes submissions to govern-ments and other bodies on animal exploitation/welfare proposals to ensure that the case for the animals is always heard when legislation is being formu-lated or revised.

In Queensland, on the north-eastern coast of Australia, the Vegan/Vegetarian Society (VVSQ) furthers it's aims by providing information to members and the general public at many festivals and stalls, distributing information leaflets and vegan recipes, and selling books, videos, magazines and other materials. Vast quantities of material are photocopied and printed, and they find a very positive response from the public at those venues. At some festivals, they provide and sell vegan foods and give cooking demonstrations. Quarterly mailings include not only the national publication "New Vegetarian and Natural Health", but their local newsletter, Vital! Social activities, dinners and lunches in members homes, speakers for local radio, television and schools are part of their approach; along with Shopping Centre stalls providing information and petitions against Battery Hens and GE Foods.