Monday 2 July 2018


Nowhere are our changing times more evident than in the choices people are making about what they eat.

Not long ago the term vegetarian brought to mind underweight alternate life-stylers surviving on lentils, lettuce, love and little else. So it might be surprising to learn that today over 2 million Australians and 6% of the US population are vegetarian, while globally a massive one in three people now eat little to no meat.

This growing trend means that every 5 minutes someone in the world is switching to a vegetarian diet or cutting back on their meat intake. In Australia, Tasmania boasts the most vegetarians at 12.7% per capita, while Ray Morgan Research finds NSW has the greatest growth in the movement, with a 30% increase in vegetarianism from 2012 to 2016.

Interviews show that the majority of vegetarians switch to a meatless diet for health reasons, supported by research from Oxford University that shows that if no one is eating meat by 2050, then 8.1 million human lives would be spared each year from obesity, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer, with an equivalent saving in health care costs of US$1 trillion annually.

Most others make the ethical choice for animals and the environment. This is also supported by studies showing that raising livestock for humans to eat takes up 26% of the world’s ice-free land; 33% of croplands to feed them; about 1,800 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef depending on circumstances; emits around 2 billion metric tons of CO2 a year; is responsible for 2.8 billion further metric tons of CO2 emission by forest clearing for more grazing land, and in the end takes far more food to keep the animals than they return as meat.

Meanwhile, to dispel that myth of lentils and lettuce, a brief browse online delivers an array of mouthwatering vegetarian and vegan recipes that any cook would itch to try, all made easy by listed ingredients being readily available on major supermarket shelves

Hats off too this year to Aldi, who even managed to supply vegan Easter eggs.

- Patricia Edwards

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on June 4, 2018.