A new report from Roy Morgan Research has found that the number of people adhering to a vegetarian diet has increased steadily since 2012, with NSW witnessing the greatest change in consumers’ eating habits.

Between 2012 and 2016 the number of Australian adults who followed a vegetarian or almost vegetarian diet rose from 1.7 million people (9.7 percent of the population) to almost 2.1 million (11.2 percent).

The shift towards vegetarianism has been most pronounced in NSW, which has seen a 30 percent growth in the diet. As of March 2016, 12.4 percent of NSW residents agreed that ‘The food I eat is all, or almost all, vegetarian’ – a rise from 9.5 percent in 2012. Western Australia has also seen significant growth, with 10.9 percent of adults going meat-free, up from 8.7 percent in 2012.

Tasmania, however, has the highest proportion of residents who eat little or no meat, with consumers who follow this diet representing 12.7 percent of the population, up from 12.2 percent in 2012.

In South Australia, 10.4 percent of residents are vegetarian, almost two percent more than in 2012 (when the figure was 8.5 percent).


Queensland residents are least likely to embrace a vegetarian diet (9.2 percent of the state’s population, up from 8.3).

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, with Sydney comprising the greatest proportion of residents who eat little or no meat (14.4 percent); ahead of Hobart (13.3 percent) and Melbourne (12.7 percent).

As for the motives of those who prefer not to eat meat, the research found that many feel that following a vegetarian diet will improve their health and/or weight. Nearly half (48.7 percent) of Australians over the age of 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 percent) and 36.7 percent agree that ‘I always think of the number of calories in the food I’m eating’ (compared with the 25.2 percent national average).

And vegetarians’ motives are justified, the research found. While 60.7 percent of Australian adults have a Body Mass Index that qualifies as overweight or obese, this figure drops to 45.4 percent for those whose diet is mostly or totally vegetarian.

Norman Morris, industry communications director, Roy Morgan Research, said “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 percent) agree that they’re ‘eating less red meat these days.’”


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