More than two million Australians are vegetarian or vegan, and an even greater number claim to consciously be eating less meat, according to a nationwide population study recently released by Roy Morgan, Australia’s leading market research company. The study, which observed diet patterns between 2012 and 2016, demonstrated the overall shift toward plant-based food across the continent.
Roy Morgan confirmed that there is a “slow but steady rise of vegetarianism in Australia.” The number of meat-free consumers jumped from 1.7 million to 2.1 million within these four years; as of 2016, vegetarians accounted for 11.2 percent of the entire population. Further, the firm found that 53.4 percent of Australian adults claimed to be eating less red meat.
The study also identified where vegans and vegetarians most heavily reside. As expected, metropolitan areas saw higher concentrations of people who prefer a plant-based diet than regional or rural areas. The state of New South Wales experienced a dramatic 30 percent increase in vegetarians, with its capital, Sydney, ranking the highest at 14.4 percent. Although it did not experience as significant a growth, the island state of Tasmania actually hosts the largest percentage of vegetarians at 12.7 percent.
The goal of the study was to assist businesses in the food industry to better market themselves and target this growing meat-free demographic. The rise in plant-based options has become prevalent simply by observing restaurant culture. Beyond the expansion of all-vegan chains, such as Lord of the Fries, omnivore restaurants are making an effort to incorporate more plant-based options. From fast-casual to fine dining, chefs are catering to this new wave of vegetarian consumers by partnering with vegan brands or creating their own vegan-friendly entrees.
Vegan options are now available at Australian Subways, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and Zambrero, among several other national fast-food chains. In Perth, the capital of Western Australia, chef-driven restaurants are also embracing vegan options. Sous Chef Aaron Raymond of Bivouac Canteen & Bar said, “We feel the need to include these [vegan] items on the menu so everyone has something, everyone can take something away from being here.”
Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director for Roy Morgan, commented, “The fact remains that this [vegetarian] trend looks set to continue.” The firm advised food industry businesses to further develop their plant-based options to remain relevant and profitable.
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