Are vegans taking over the world?

I was recently in charge of ordering the catering at an event for a highly environmentally aware group of young people from non livestock agriculture backgrounds, only to discover that, that all important question for caterers (dietary requirements) was left off the survey. We will blame SurveyMonkey it should be a given in every survey

So there was a last minute guessing session for the caterer. Highly environmentally aware/non livestock farmers = 60% vegetarian, 20% vegan, 10% gluten free, 10% meat eaters.

We got it all wrong (no vegans, no gluten free) but we all got stuck into the Vegan Chocolate Balls.

Vegan Chocolate ball

 The vegan chocolate ball 

No-one likes to be put in a box and no-one should ever assume. After all I get cheesed off when people are surprised when I don’t wear gumboots all the time.

This got me thinking, if we had time to do call Dr Google what would she have said?  What percentage of the population is vegan/vegetarian and why have they chosen this dietary lifestyle?

Did you know Australia is the third-fastest growing vegan market in the world?   Data from market researcher Euromonitor International has shown Australia’s packaged vegan food market is currently worth almost $136 million, set to reach $215 million by 2020. Read the article in the SMH here

And there is a slow but steady rise of vegetarianism in Australia.

Between 2012 and 2016, the number of Australian adults whose diet is all or almost all vegetarian has risen from 1.7 million people (or 9.7% of the population) to almost 2.1 million (11.2%), the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal. While it is a nationwide trend, the shift towards vegetarianism has been most striking in New South Wales, where there has been a 30% growth in this kind of diet.

As of March 2016, 12.4% of people living in NSW agreed that ‘The food I eat is all, or almost all, vegetarian’, up from 9.5% back in 2012.  There was also a solid increase in Western Australia, with 10.9% of adult Sandgropers adopting a meat-free (or meat-minimal) diet (up from 8.7% in 2012), and in South Australia (10.4%, up from 8.5%).

As it did in 2012, Tasmania leads the nation with the highest proportion of residents who eat little or no meat (12.7%, up from 12.2%), while Queensland (9.2%, up from 8.3%) retains the distinction of being the state least inclined towards vegetarianism.

Where Australia’s vegetarians live: 2012 vs 2016


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2011-March 2012 (n=19,167); April 2015-March 2016 (n=14,380)

Australia’s vegetarians (and those who eat an almost vegetarian diet) are more likely to live in capital cities than in regional or rural areas. Given NSW’s vege-friendly status, it’s hardly surprising that Sydney is the capital with the greatest proportion of residents who eat little or no meat (14.4%); ahead of Hobart (13.3%) and Melbourne (12.7%). Source 

And its not all about the ethics of eating meat

As Roy Morgan Research has explored in the past, many Australians adopt a vegetarian diet for health and/or weight-loss reasons – and this hasn’t changed. Nearly half (48.7%) of Aussies 18+ who eat little or no meat agree that ‘A low-fat diet is a way of life for me’ (well above the population average of 31.9%) and 36.7% agree that ‘I always think of the number of calories in the food I’m eating’ (compared with the 25.2% national average).

Interestingly while 60.7% of Australian adults have a Body Mass Index that qualifies as overweight or obese, this figure drops to 45.4% of those whose diet is mostly or totally vegetarian.

And these insights and future predictions from Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research

“Whether people are embracing a less meat-heavy diet for health, environmental or animal-welfare reasons, the fact remains that this trend looks set to continue. Not only has there been an increase in near or total vegetarianism across Australia, but almost 9.9 million Aussie adults (53.4%) agree that they’re ‘eating less red meat these days’.

“If they have not already, supermarkets and eateries would be wise to revisit their vegetarian-friendly options to ensure they are catering adequately for this growing – and potentially lucrative — consumer segment.

“Of course, to do this successfully, an in-depth understanding of the segment is crucial: which is where the power of Roy Morgan Single Source data comes in. For example, Australians whose diet is largely or completely vegetarian are 20% more likely than average to spend more than $40 per week on fruit and vegetables, 93% more likely to buy organic food whenever they can, and 14% more likely to try new types of food.

“Roy Morgan’s ground-breaking consumer profiling tool Helix Personas allows businesses in the food industry to identify the country’s vegetarians with unprecedented accuracy, enabling them to create marketing campaigns and branding that are relevant and appealing to their target audience.

“For example, nearly 30% of people who fall within the Fit & Fab persona eat little or no meat. Based primarily in inner-city neighbourhoods, Fit & Fab tend to be young, sociable, sporty and always on the go. While they’re not averse to some serious partying, they are also careful to balance their action-packed lifestyle with a healthy diet – which is where vegetarian food would come in.

“In contrast, vegetarianism is frequently a cultural choice for the segment known as New Australians, nearly one third of whom follow a diet free of or low in meat. Comprised largely of Indian, Chinese and other Asian immigrants living in outer suburban areas, New Australians are well educated, socially connected and in the early stages of their careers. They enjoy domestic life – even grocery shopping, where they would certainly take an interest in vegetarian products on offer.” Source 

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

One thought on “Are vegans taking over the world?”

  1. It does seem that “vegans” are becoming more highly represented in the population, doesn’t it? As you have found, completely plant-based foods are becoming more palatable to the average person all the time!! My wife and I (who are vegan) make some great meals that are diverse, tasty AND healthy. For example, we made a sweet potato based chocolate cake for a birthday dinner recently and the non-vegans at the dinner loved it. It really was nice.

    Just one small point. Veganism is a philosophy about causing less harm to other lives and the diet is a consequence of a broader world-view. In other words the ethical stance in respect to animals is the foundation to this philosophy. People who eat little or no meat for reasons of health or the environment are perhaps more rightly viewed as people who eat a plant-based diet. But the label “vegan” is now being seen as a bit of a catch-all for a plant-only diet.

    Either way, it is nice to see more interest in a healthier and more compassionate approach to eating!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: