A café in New Zealand has been forced to shut its doors after refusing to serve dairy – despite business growing rapidly since it switched to a vegan menu in July
Cool Beans Café – in Mangawhai on New Zealand’s North Island – received complaints from customers because it stopped selling dairy products. In a bid to reduce the café’s environmental impact its owner, Morgan Redfern-Hardisty, brought in six plant-based milk alternatives, as well as a wholly vegan food and drink menu. As a result, business increased by a whopping 25% in just one month.
However, Mr Redfern-Hardisty said the Mangawhai Activity Zone Charitable Trust (MAZCT), which owns the park where the café is situated, told him he must revert to the “status quo” if he wanted to see his contract renewed.
Mr Redfern-Hardisty, who switched to a plant-based diet three years ago after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, said:
“My intention purely was to reduce the café’s impact on the environment, provide healthy alternatives, and not to use and exploit animals in any way. Even the best dairy farms in New Zealand are still tainting the waterways.
“I had been holding my tongue serving cow’s milk, but since making the switch the community reaction has been so positive.”
Some locals have expressed their outrage on social media at the closure, and a petition calling on the trust to reverse its decision has already gained over 12,000 signatures.
MAZCT had told Mr Redfern-Hardisty that the move to a plant-based premises might not be “financially wise.”
The trust’s chairman, Colin Gallagher, said the café made the decision to close down as a result of refusing to serve customers “a choice of additives when ordering coffee.”
“I am responsible to ensure all visitors have a safe and enjoyable visit to the park. To suggest they could walk elsewhere for a coffee of their choice defeats the purpose of mum and dad being with their children while they played,” continued Gallagher.
“We suggested organic milk was just fine by us, but again he refused. I personally said he could place a sign in his cafe saying that using cow’s milk is against his beliefs but to give customers a choice I have been asked to do it by MAZ.”
Prior to the closure, Mr Redfern-Hardisty said he kept a “good relationship” with MAZCT, volunteering for the trust at its skatepark, shaving his dreadlocks off – raising them $1,325 – and keeping a fundraising box on his counter.
The dairy industry is big business in New Zealand, although pollution from dairy farming has left 60% of the country’s rivers and lakes un-swimmable.
To ditch the dairy and go vegan, sign up to the Veganuary pledge here to receive our vegan starter kit. What have you got to lose?