We talk passion, purpose and politics with AJP candidate Mackenzie Severns
Mackenzie Severns is a 22-year-old advocate for people, planet and animals. Now this young environmental scientist is seeking election to the Queensland Senate. We caught up with her to find out more about her journey into the political spotlight.
Passionate about animals and nature since her earliest years, Mackenzie Severns has a powerful vision for change. Inspired by other trailblazers such as the Hon. Emma Hurst MP, she is seeking to create a more sustainable, compassionate and healthy future as a political activist with Australia’s Animal Justice Party.
As she prepares to launch her campaign for election to the Queensland Senate, we spoke to Mackenzie about her journey so far as a young vegan changemaker, her hopes for the future, and what it takes to own your space in the spotlight.
An early awakening
CL: At what point did you become vegan, and what drove your transition?
MS: I have been vegan since I was 15 years old, so that’s 7 years now! I learned at a young age that the animals on my plate were the same animals that I loved interacting with. I have always been someone who loved animals, so I was horrified that animals had to be killed for me to enjoy a meal. I boldly told my mum that I didn’t want to eat animals any more and became vegetarian at age 9. My concern for the treatment of animals in our society grew from there. As I learnt more about the ways in which we exploit animals, I no longer wanted to consume dairy and eggs, attend zoos or circuses, or wear the skin or fur of animals.
By my mid-teens, I was also becoming aware of the connections of our food system to the climate and ecological crisis. So being vegan felt like an incredibly empowering way to ‘be the change’ for the planet, animals and people.
The power of politics
CL: What inspired you to get into politics?
MS: I first learned about the Animal Justice Party in early 2019 during the final year of my environmental science degree when I got talking to two representatives of the party at a vegan potluck in Townsville. I heard for the first time about the leverage we could have in achieving tangible change for animals and nature through the political system, and I found a political party whose values are so closely aligned with my own. I immediately became a member, and not long after I became the AJP Regional Coordinator for Townsville.
CL: What is the number one thing you are passionate about achieving with the AJP?
MS: It’s so hard to choose just one! Though I would say that my top priority is addressing the climate and biodiversity emergency because there is so much interconnectedness for animals, the environment, and people too!
As a politically active vegan, it’s exciting to see the opportunity for societal change through political reform. The government has a vital role to play in making veganism more accessible by investing in local plant-based food production, increasing transparency with regard to the way animals are treated in agriculture, and promoting the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Stepping up as a young woman in politics
CL: What does it mean to you to be a young woman in politics?
MS: I am so proud to be a young woman with political drive. To me, women have a lot of value in politics because we are underrepresented in so many aspects of society. The AJP’s core values are kindness, equality, rationality, and non-violence, which really set the party apart and enable a safe environment for women to thrive in politics.
CL: What challenges have you faced as you’ve stepped into the public sphere?
By far the largest challenge I have faced is derogatory comments online and on the campaign trail. I had to learn very quickly that these people were just triggered by seeing a young woman advocating for her beliefs, and their comments had actually nothing to do with me personally.
CL: What is your advice on how to get started with a political career?
It really isn’t as scary as it seems! Take the plunge and own your space in the spotlight, don’t sit around waiting for someone else to act. The AJP has active branches all across Australia; get in contact with them today! The AJP is incredibly supportive of all new faces and can provide you with the resources you need to succeed in a political career.
To learn more about the AJP, visit animaljusticeparty.org, and keep up with Mackenzie’s campaign by following the Animal Justice Party Queensland on Facebook.
Images: courtesy of Mackenzie Severns