Veganism is on the rise in Australia
For decades, there was seemingly nothing more Australian than firing up the barbie to enjoy a meal of meat and three veg. Today though, plant based diets are gaining widespread popularity, with Australia becoming the world’s third-fasted growing vegan market.
The tastes and sensibilities of Australian consumers are changing, perhaps indelibly. The market for vegan packaged foods is expected to be worth $215 million alone by 2020, whilst Melbourne is fast gaining a reputation as the vegan capital of the world. Major food retailers such as Dominoes, Grill’d, Guzman Y Gomez and Subway now offer multiple vegan menu items – and they’re far from the only brands who have identified a surging vegan market.
What’s driving the shift towards veganism?
With 38% of global consumers now eating meat, fish and dairy less than once a week, the shift towards veganism appears to be driven by millennials – who today represent the world’s largest generation.
Ostensibly, millennials have greater exposure to social media content exploring animal rights and environmental issues. Armed with this knowledge, millennials have created a shift in ‘food culture’ that is becoming disruptive to many established supply chains.
As the Center for Nutrition in New York explains, “Millennials aren’t interested in doing things the way their parents did just for the sake of tradition; they are asking questions and looking behind the scenes.”
Can veganism be described as a value system?
Vegans in Australia describe the decision to eat a plant based diet as a reflection of their personal values and beliefs. For these individuals, veganism is an ethical position, rather than a simple set of dietary guidelines.
“A plant based diet allows me to live my life according to my ethical beliefs of causing no harm to animals.” – Linda
“[Being] vegan is an ethical position. [Veganism] should have same protection as religious freedom. It is a matter of conscience.” – Anna
“I’ve always had compassion for animals, I’ve always known that consuming them was wrong… I see veganism as not a diet, but a way of life… It stems from every single thing you do… It’s a mindful and present lifestyle where you are continually doing better for you, your family, the earth we live on and every single being that exists on it.” – Jayne
Even global business leaders are taking note of this evolving value set. Virgin Founder Richard Branson recently revealed, “In 30 years or so, I believe we will look back and be shocked at what was the accepted way we killed animals en masse for food.”
Is veganism a healthier option?
Research has indicated that people following plant based diets are generally more health-oriented than the rest of society. “Vegans drink less, smoke less and tend to exercise more,” Fairfax Media reports, adding that “a vegan diet may help weight loss.”
In 2013, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) updated its dietary guidelines to recognise plant based nutrition as a viable option for many Australians. The guidelines even advise individuals to ‘include some meat-free meals each week’, using ingredients such as beans, legumes, polenta and tofu.
“Alternatives to animal foods include nuts, seeds, legumes, beans and tofu. For all Australians, these foods increase dietary variety and can provide a valuable, affordable source of protein and other nutrients found in meats.”
– Australian Dietary Guidelines
However, the guidelines also encourage vegans to supplement their levels of Vitamin B12, or seek personalised information from an accredited dietitian. Other health authorities recommend that vegans monitor their levels of iron, calcium and omega-3 fats.
Is veganism better for the environment?
Since 2003, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has indicated that greenhouse gas emissions emitted by livestock in fact exceed that of global transportation infrastructure. Livestock production is also related to the emission of destructive gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide.
Emissions from the production of beef and lamb are 250 times higher than those connected to the cultivation of legumes. What’s more, livestock industries are involved in large-scale land clearing, which has manifold implications for local ecosystems. As an article published in the international science journal Nature bluntly stated:
“Global agriculture and food production release more than 25% of all greenhouse gases (GHGs), pollute fresh and marine waters with agro-chemicals, and use as cropland or pastureland about half of the ice-free land area of Earth.”
Fortunately, the same study did offer a more optimistic opportunity for the future. Its authors found that a projected 80% increase in global greenhouses gas emissions could be avoided – if the ‘typical’ global diet became an equal-parts combination of Mediterranean, pescatarian and vegetarian ingredients.
Why create VeganNews.com.au?
VeganNews.com.au was created in response to these pressing environmental, social and health-related concerns. Our aim is to become Australia’s number one source of plant based news, information and inspiration.
We envision a world where consuming animal byproducts is frankly passé, and hope to connect Australians with the information necessary to bring about such change. Our goal is to create an approachable, tolerant, non-judgemental online community that makes plant based living simple, versatile and achievable.
VeganNews.com.au offers a powerful tool for plant based Australians to communicate, educate and inspire one another. We are partnering with an upcoming sister site, FlexiVeg.com, to welcome readers at every stage of their exploration into plant based living.
We will offer dedicated spaces for activism, along with vegan recipes, product reviews, news updates and daily inspiration. We look forward to sharing the journey with you, our readers, and encourage you to let the VeganNews.com.au team know if there is something you’d like to see here.