Aussies eating less meat, but won’t go vegan
Exclusive: A rising number of Baby Boomers, who traditionally grew up eating meat and three vegetables are now becoming meat-reducers, as the popularity of plant-based meals surges across Australia.
New research by independent think tank Food Frontier and Life Health Foods obtained by News Corp has found one in three Australians are limiting their meat consumption, with 43 per cent of meat-reducers being Baby Boomers, while Millennials account for 57 per cent of vegans and 61 per cent of vegetarians.
Meat-reducers are defined as someone who has decided to eat less meat in the last 12 months, in contrast to a vegetarian who doesn't eat meat but may make exceptions for it and a vegan, who usually doesn't eat meat, eggs or dairy.
The data, based on more than 1000 Australians surveyed, has found some states are leading the way with one diet type over another.
Queensland has the most meat-reducers followed by South Australia, ACT, Tasmania and Western Australia.
But the country's meat eaters are still more likely to be found in regional Australia and the Northern Territory.
Victoria has the biggest uptake of vegetarian diets, followed by South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania.
NSW is seeing more consumers adopt flexitarian diets - someone who eats meat four times a week - followed by Tasmania.
South Australia and WA are leading the country with more people switching to vegan diets followed by South Australia, ACT and Tasmania.
Six in ten Australians have tried plant-based meat products, with Baby Boomers and Generation X motivated to try it by on-pack claims like 'full of flavour' and 'Australian made', while Millennials will try it if it's got 'plant-based' or 'vegan' written on it.
Those who aren't keen to try the products question if it's "nutritious enough", if it "fits their budget" and also ask "will I like the taste?"
Bowen Hills student and athlete Prue McAuliffe, 33, has been vegan for over three years.
"I initially made the switch for ethical reasons and now I also see the health benefits and environmental benefits," Ms McAuliffe said.
"There are so many benefits to eating more plant-based, so it's really good to hear all different generations are becoming interested."
Ms McAuliffe said it's easy to find vegan products in the supermarket and that some of the meat substitutes can be tasty and nutritious.
"A lot of them actually taste like meat which I don't particularly like, but it's good to give people options."
She said anyone interested in eating less meat but worried a cutting back would leave them feeling weak should "try it and see".
Clinical Nutritionist and Naturopath Michaela Sparrow told News Corp she recommends the Mediterranean diet most, as it restricts meat consumption to three times a week.
"The move to plant-based foods and less meat isn't a fad, it's a realistic way people can improve their health and reduce environmental impact," she said.
"The Mediterranean diet is the most studied and beneficial diet to reducing risk of many age-related diseases."
Ms Sparrow warned not all plant-based food is healthy.
"People just assume with labelling, it's healthy but a lot of plant-based meat is so highly processed it's actually worse than eating a plain steak, it has fillers and preservatives and
a lot of soy can be issue," she said.
She said vegans and vegetarians need to look at combining wholefoods rather than relying on processed foods, and avoid eating plant-based foods with more than five ingredients.
"It's not a natural, complete food, and our bodies just don't process it," she said.
The report comes as Woolworths has recently been enticing customers to buy pre-prepped meat meals that give back five times more rewards points.
Yesterday, some shoppers were sent an email offering from 500 to 800 extra points on meat products like beef scotch fillet and lamb rump.
Woolworths Director of Fresh, Paul Harker told News Corp they have seen an increasing number of customers looking to incorporate vegetarian and vegan-friendly options into their weekly diets, including plant based alternatives.
"Customers can now pick up plant-based frozen dessert, mince, burger patties, sausages from their local Woolworths and in the coming weeks they will also start to see plant-based brownies, cookies and even dark chocolate cake on shelves," he said.
"This isn't all about customers deciding to go vegan or vegetarian, but part of a broader trend where Australians are looking to add more vegetables and plant based foods into their weekly shop."
Coles has also been offering 10 times the normal frequent flyer points on meat products like boneless pork belly roast.
A Coles spokesman told News Corp shoppers are becoming more interested in plant-based foods, but their research has found they are not switching to a full vegetarian diet, and are substituting veggie options a couple of times a week.
"Customers are loving our Beyond Meat and Alternative Meat Co. products, which have enjoyed double-digit growth week-on-week over the past month," she said.
"And since its launch in June, Chicken-Free Chicken has already become one of our most popular products in the range."
WHICH EATER ARE YOU?
*Meat-reducers: Someone who has decided to eat less meat in the last year
*Vegetarian: Someone who doesn't eat meat but may make exceptions for it
*Vegan: Someone who usually doesn't eat meat, eggs or dairy but may make an exception
*Meat Eater: Someone eating the same amount of meat, or more, in the last year
*Flexitarian: Someone eating meat a maximum of four times a week, including pescetarians