On April 21st 2015, the Invercargill Vegan Society was visited by a traveling Swedish sociologist! Professor Tobias Linné is on loan from the University of Lund, 18,000 kilometres north of Invercargill :-) Lund is the birthplace of the Tetra-Pak, the sterile packaging which protects your soymilk!
We could only keep Tobias for one night, fearful of the “late return fee”! :-) Tobias is a researcher and university lecturer, focusing on Critical Animal Studies. His classes offer a critical exploration of how we assign value to animals in Western society.
Basically, he’s vegan and thinks veganism is pretty decent :-) We discussed how people often just accept what they grow up with as their usual routine. Call it “The Stockholm Syndrome”, putting up with bland “meat and three veg”, when there’s a whole world of vegan food, fair trade vegan clothing and animal rights out there!
Sweden has a developed dairy industry, although not nearly at the same scale as the New Zealand behemoth. We explained how the vegetable “swede” is associated with Southland, and often used as a feedstock “stockfeed” on Southland dairy farms.
Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt mentioned our mighty swedes in his video for the Invercargill Vegan Society. Imagine buying “Southern swede served steamed…” from a local cafe :-)
Tobias (and Wikipedia) note that “rutabaga” (what New Zealanders call “swede”) is served mashed with potato and carrot, a dish called “rotmos” (Swedish: literally root mash)
With both “Swedes”, we visited the Invercargill Vegan Society “Welcome to Invercargill” sign as night descended. The red sky at night was to the vegan sociologists delight!
Tobias is visiting New Zealand to join colleague Dr Annie Potts at the University of Canterbury. Organising the “New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies”, Annie is a proud member of the Invercargill Vegan Society – she is a born and bred Southlander, and grew up on Herbert Street :-) She also coined the internationally used term “vegan-sexual”, for animal rights activists who prefer being in relationships with other vegans!
Dr Potts presented at the Aotearoa Animal Rights Conference 2013 in Wellington. We loved her discussion about anti-possum sentiment which is spread culturally among New Zealanders. We’re taught from an early age to HATE possums, and yet they’re beloved animals in their native Australia, just next door!
The INVSOC library has a collection of Annie’s fine work, which she has kindly signed :-)
Tobias shared his experiences with Animal Rights in Sweden, and during this current New Zealand visit.
“In Sweden you would usually find a larger variety of vegan/vegetarian products in the supermarket, and more people (about 10 %) would claim to be vegan/vegetarian. But in terms of the animal rights movement, New Zealand has really surprised me. To me there seems to be a lot of things going on with New Zealand animal rights, I have met so many inspiring and dedicated people during my three months here, who are doing an incredible work for Other Animals.
And not just in the bigger cities like Auckland and Christchurch, but also in a place like Invercargill, that usually would not be what people think about when they think about veganism and New Zealand!”
“I feel that is important for humans to realise how we share the planet with Other Animals, to see how our lives our entangled with those of other species, to recognise that our society is built on the use and abuse of those other animals. We need to change this, because animals lives matter, to them (and it should matter to us). That is what I teach in my classes, and working with this in education really gives me hope. We have students from all over the world, and many become vegan or vegetarian after taking the course.”
We all took an intermission to enjoy an animal friendly supper!
Showing that it’s quite possible to live without the cruelty of the dairy industry, we popped cartons of Sanitarium soymilk in celebration of veganism! Served in Tetra-Pak cartons, invented in Tobias’s Swedish city of Lund!
Dan made huge chocolate cookies, Steph brought cupcakes. Erin shared mint chocolate biscuits, Amelia revealed scrumptious seedy snacks.
We persuaded Tobias to sign one of Annie’s books, a memento of his momentous visit to the bottom of the world :-)
As animal lovers, we are so very glad to have academics like Tobias and Annie on the side of our animal friends. We wish Tobias all the best for his travels around New Zealand and the 18,000 kilometres safely home to Sweden! :-)