Alex Dalland

A country known for its thriving meat industry, Australians have always been known as lovers of meat, even topping the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s list of the biggest meat eating countries in the world. But all this might be starting to change, according to a recent poll by Roy Morgan Research.

The new survey shows a nationwide trend towards vegetarian eating, with the number of adults whose diet is mostly or exclusively vegetarian rising from 1.7 million to almost 2.1 million people, or just over 11 per cent of the entire population.

While Tasmania leads the states as having the largest population of non meat-eaters, with 12.7 per cent, the largest increase has been in New South Wales, where there has been a thirty per cent growth in vegetarian eating.

“Not only has there been an increase in near or total vegetarianism across Australia, but almost 9.9 million Aussie adults agree that they’re ‘eating less red meat these days,” Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director of Roy Morgan says.

“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.”

The survey also shows that vegetarian or near-vegetarian Australians are 93 per cent more likely to buy organic food wherever possible and 14 per cent more likely to try new types of food. Most of those surveyed chose to adopt a vegetarian diet for health or weight loss reasons, with nearly half preferring a diet low in fat.

According to Morris, cultural factors can also play a role in diet.

“Vegetarianism is frequently a cultural choice for the [marketing] 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.”