No, we will not ‘put another shrimp on the barbie’. Haven’t you heard? Australia’s been listed as the third fastest growing vegan market in the world; a major step forward for us as a country, and us as a planet. The word is getting out that going vegan, cruelty-free, green and sustainable is good and cool. This trend is one that will continue to grow and stay for a while so you’re better to get amongst it, or be left out when it truly takes off. What exactly does this mean for Australia, though? And better yet, who has the best vegan market in the world? I have put my detective skills to the test on this one, but either way, we should be proud of us Aussies for taking a crack at saving the world one country at a time.
If you’ve been living off the grid for the past few years, veganism is a diet that excludes the use of animal products, including animal meat and products in which animals produce. Us female millennials have taken on this diet with a purpose, which is just now starting to influence the older generation. Veganism underlies concerns about animal welfare, especially because of the recent poultry standards debate in Australia and plays a part for people’s mission to manage their weight.
Social media (of course) has been the main influencer for veganism and so far, has done a brilliant job of it. The rise of beautifully presented vegan meals bursting with colours flaunted over Instagram and blog sites has become a trend in itself. From these showcases, various restaurants have taken advantage and embraced the trend, now offering vegan-friendly options. This helps promote the vegan diet, and the restaurants’ brand. Competing with the restaurants, vegan fast food is on the rise. Big chains in Australia are starting to look in the meat-free isle, with companies such as Subway, Nando’s and Hungry Jack’s offering vegetarian and vegan menu options.
Over the last year, Google searches containing the word ‘vegan’ have spiked dramatically with more searches made in Australia then any other country. However, with the perks, like anything, there is always a downside. There are warnings that cutting meat out of anyone’s diet completely shouldn’t be done without planning and medical advice. The warning doesn’t only include the boycotting of animal products, but the trap of eating processed vegan-friendly foods like vegan packaged sausages, which are obviously not sourced naturally and are generally high in sodium and salts. Between the years of 2014 to 2016, the amount of food products launched in Australia introducing a vegan representation rose by 92%. By far the most popular product that non-vegans or part-time vegans lap up is alternative milk. Our nations soy and almond milk production has grown significantly too. These milks have improved coffee by so much, but the problem with almond and even rice milk is that the production process requires hundreds of litres of water to make just one litre of the alternative milk. The popular environmental group WWF (World Wide Fund), the rapid growth of soy crops around the world over the past decade, mostly for animal feed, is causing concern with mass deforestation. It truly does sound like we can’t win either way.
Wishing you could un-read the last paragraph of sad-but-true facts, you’re probably thinking what can we do/eat/drink without harming animals and environments all over the world? One way to do this is to support and shop locally. You’ve probably heard that term before, right? It might mean buying from independent food boutiques, local farms/ orchards or even growing your own bunch of fruit and vegetables in your backyard. You should also try to stay away from soy. Soy is the common factor when it comes to deforestation. In countries without strict laws (like Australia have), there’s nothing stopping farmers from going into a forest, cutting down trees and causing havoc in order to start a crop. Soy is mainly grown for the animals, and the animals need land to live on, so when the land is taken away from them and the soy is no longer accessible where do they have to go? Either the animals are moved from land to land to enable the rehabilitation of past crop sites or they are to fend for themselves in unnatural habitats.
It is estimated that by 2020, the vegan market will cost more than $215 million and with the way everyone is catching on somehow, that is due to increase in the near future. Australia is the third fastest growing vegan market with the top spots going to United Arab Emirates and China. Let’s hope that altogether we can see right from wrong and choose all products with caution for our precious land and animals, weather it means spending a few extra dollars for the freshest fruit or going a few days a week meat-free. A minor change can implement and influence.
Written by Darcey Weaven
Header image: Sydney Community College