CRUSH: New Zealand’s Youngest Animal Activist!

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An interview with Maja Skilling

Animal activism was not something I thought of when at aged 12 and at the expense of parent’s patience I decided I would stop eating meat. I was the first in the entire extended family and no one had any idea what I was doing and to be fair, neither did I.

This was before the time when we lived on the internet and all I had was a gut feeling that eating meat was wrong and I had to save animals.

For Maja Skilling, becoming a devout vegan at the age of 12, it was easy. She knew it was wrong and felt passionate about becoming the animal activist she is today. You might know Maja’s name from being instrumental in convincing countdown supermarkets to go cage-free with their eggs.

With a colossal 20,000 signatures on her petition alone and a collaboration with SAFE under her belt, it was difficult for Dave Chambers, managing director of Countdown to say no and just days before the petition was due to be handed over they agreed to be cage-free by 2025. Foodstuffs followed shortly after and agreed to go cage-free by 2027.

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Maja is now 13 and there is no stopping where she goes next with her animal activism. Even in her own backyard where she looks after and nurses rescue hens. She has also just been made an ambassador for SAFE’s new youth space, SAFE Animal Squad and is writing her first ever TED Talk.

Although she is young she is most definitely wise and has learned a lot already. For people wanting to get involved in animal activism, she said, “Don’t just wait around for something to happen, actually do it.. if you’re passionate about it you can actually make things happen. People will listen to you.” Even getting her parents on board who haven’t had animal products in the house for over a year.

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I asked her what she sees the world like in 10 years time and she believes that if we can get rid of factory farming we can start moving forward to the next thing. When I was 12 I was nowhere near as well informed as Maja but as she puts it, “you are never too young or old to start trying to make a difference”. The world would be a much better place if we all tried to be like Maja.

 

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Our resident vegan. Bridie loves all things plant-based, social issues and saving the world one plastic bag at a time. She is constantly adding to her diverse music collection and always looking for more. You'll catch her at as many music shows that she can humanly attend. Connect with her at bridiejune@gmail.com. Bring coffee.