Australia is going vegetarian: national poll confirms steady trend

Australians are eating less meat than they were four years ago — and it’s a dietary trend gaining momentum, says market research giant Roy Morgan.

The Morgan poll is significant because it’s one of the few national surveys looking into local attitudes toward meat consumption, and reasons for choosing vegetarianism. The pollsters found that between 2012 and 2016, those Australians identified as completely or almost meat-free, increased from 1.7 million to almost 2.1 million people (11.2% of the population*).

The most common reason Australians were adopting vegetarianism was for health or weight loss related reasons. Almost half of those interviewed believed that the vegetarian diet was lower in fat and calories than a meat based diet. As pointed out by Morgan, these beliefs stack up. Around 60% of Australian adults have a Body Mass Index (BMI) that qualifies as overweight or obese, but for vegetarians, the BMI drops to around 45%. Also, the Morgan poll from 2012 found that adult vegetarians were more likely that the average meat eating Australian to consume less alcohol (specifically 37% less); more likely to enjoy healthy foods; engage in formal exercise; and avoid dairy products whenever possible.

The poll also showed that there was steady growth in vegetarianism in all Australian states over the last four years except Victoria. Tasmania takes the prize for the highest overall headcount, rising from 12.2% of their population to almost 13%. Queensland had the least number of vegetarians at 9.2% of their population. Out of the major capitals, Sydney leads (at 14.5%) having shown an explosive 30% growth of vegetarians since 2012, and beating Hobart (13.3%) and Melbourne (12.7%).

Norman Morris, from Morgan Research, stated that supermarkets, restaurants and cafes ought to give more thought to non-meat options if they want to access the groundswell of a potentially wide-reaching and lucrative population:

“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’.”

*Morgan only polled people over 18 years old, so the number of vegetarians in Australia is higher than 11.2% of the population.