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MEET ANNA: love animals, eat plants #Veganuary

<<You may already have encountered Anna Malia, at one of many activities driven by her love of animals: offering plant-based food samples, collecting petition signatures at Newcastle’s Monument, giving talks in schools and to groups, organising the annual Tyneside Vegan & Music Festival, or rescuing animals in distress. She's joined a team of local plant-based food

enthusiasts who're kindly sharing their stories, sharing great tips and answering

queries from Climate Action Newcastle supporters. Olwyn’s been finding out more>>


***Main VEGANUARY coverage can be seen here.


The UK is often described as a national of animal lovers. And that underpins Anna’s approach to what we eat and drink. At the age of 14, biology lessons involving egg experiments led her to the bigger question: “If we love animals – why would we eat them?” Trying out vegetarianism and greater awareness then broadened her outlook: “Why would we put them through what happens BEFORE we eat them?” So 18 years ago, a vegan approach seemed the natural next step.

Support for animals of all shapes and sizes goes far wider than food choices and takes up much of her time. However, that powerful drive means she always finds time to uncover a wealth of information to help make it as easy as possible for others to enjoy plant-based food and drinks. And she’s keen to share it, making her the perfect person to be on our panel of local experts, to help answer your queries.

"When I became a vegetarian, it wasn’t easy back then: labels had limited information, and many people had no idea what it meant, let alone how to achieve a healthy diet. It was difficult for the family to understand, as well.

It was 18 years ago that I decided to take the next step – it took so long because I expected veganism to be difficult, expensive and more extreme. But it proved much easier! – I often just veganised food I’d enjoyed before, like spag bol and curry. Lots of cultures have dishes that are mainly vegan anyway, they’re just not labelled that way. If you do batch cooking, it can work out very cheap and easy – it’s not hard to have a meal portion for about 50p. And there are so many more places and offers on.

I retired early from my education career, and so I can now draw on all that lifetime of learning. The campaign group I set up, North East Animal Rights, takes an educational approach, so people can make informed choices. I give talks, such as to schools, and we have a stall at Monument in Newcastle every fortnight (Saturday 11-1).

NEAR also fundraises for two charities, runs campaigns (a recent example was a protest about cruelty to pigeons as a result of new netting) and stages the annual Tyneside Vegan & Music Festival - this May will be its 5th year (info here). And I’m also on call with the PAWZ for Thought charity to carry out emergency rescues. I’m busy all year round helping them with rescues – birds, cats, dogs – but it is especially busy in the spring and summer. I’ve built up contacts and a kit of equipment.

So that’s what led me in the vegan direction, but of course people have different starting points that spark them to consider moving towards veganism. But once you discover what is involved in meat, fish, dairy – you can’t ‘unsee’ it. Humans manage the lives of billions of animals, from artificial insemination to removing or killing calves soon after birth (so we can have milk) to slaughtering animals after short and unfulfilling artificial lives. Trawling the seabed on an industrial scale destroys natural environments and releases vast amounts of stored greenhouse gases, contributing to climate breakdown.

So there are so many good reasons to spread the word about the benefits of veganism.

****Social Media and Video Interviews

North East Animal Rights: Facebook here.

Tyneside Vegan & Music Festival: 11 May 2024 11-4, Northumbria University 

Interview: Prashanth Vishwanath, Director of Veganuary India: here

Fascinating discussion about UK/India differences between veganism and animal rights

Interview: Toni Vernelli, Veganuary Policy and Comms Director: here

Toni’s career in campaign groups and the development of Veganuary


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