Monday, October 28th, 2013
What do comedian Chris Lilley, musician Missy Higgins and cricketing legend Greg Chappell have in common? They’re all vegetarian, and part of a slow but steady trend towards meat-free (or at least, meat-minimal) living in Australia. The latest figures from Roy Morgan Research show that the number of Aussies aged 14+ who agree with the statement, ‘The food I eat is all, or almost all, vegetarian’ has grown from 1,608,000 in 2009 to 1,935,000 (or 10% of the population) as of June 2013.

From reducing our risk of heart disease to avoiding weight gain, the health benefits of a meat-free diet are well documented. Medical statistics aside, there’s no doubt that vegetarians are more health-conscious than the average Australian — in both attitudes and behaviour.

Meat-free is only the beginning

Choosing to eat all or mainly vegetarian food is not a decision to be made lightly, and this is reflected in Australian vegetarians’ commitment to their health. They are 50% more likely to agree with the statement ‘I favour natural medicines and health products’ than the average Aussie, and 47% more likely to agree that ‘a low fat diet is a way of life for me’. What’s more, they’re 23% likelier to ‘love to do as many sports as possible’.

Vegetarians vs average Australians: how they compare on health issues


This chart shows the index of the target profile group compared to the population, with 100 being the average. Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2012 – June 2013 (n = 20,267).

People who eat little or no meat are also more likely than the average Australian to enjoy health food, to engage in formal exercise and to avoid dairy foods whenever they can. Curiously, it seems that a meat-free lifestyle may have some bearing on alcohol consumption too: in any given seven-day period, adult vegetarians are 37% less likely to have enjoyed a tipple than the average Australian.

But for all their healthy living, vegetarians aren’t immune from the occasional setback: not only are they 59% more likely than the average Australian to be or have been anaemic in the last year, they’re also 24% likelier to have experienced an anxiety disorder.

Nick Williams, Healthcare Consultant, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Along with ethical reasons, health is one of the main motivations behind the decision to follow a primarily or totally vegetarian diet. We’ve all heard about how reducing our red meat intake can improve our well-being, and our data does indicate that vegetarians are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems as well as being far less likely to be overweight or obese.

“However, it’s important to note that vegetarians are 27% more likely to be under 35 than the average Australian, an age when they’re less vulnerable to many illnesses and medical conditions anyway.

“Our data also shows that many people who eat little or no meat tend to practise other good health habits as well: they’re less likely to drink excessively or eat food high in fat or containing dairy, and more likely to exercise than the average Australian. But this doesn’t make them exempt from health issues: anaemia is a common problem, as a plant-based diet can be low in iron; and they’re significantly more likely to experience mood and behavioural disorders such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, anorexia or bulimia.

“Viewed through the lens of Roy Morgan’s in-depth new profiling tool Helix Personas, vegetarians are most likely to be found in the Metrotechs Community: particularly Social Flyers, Quiet Achievers and Social Academics (but above average in most Metrotech personas). As well as being environmentally aware and health-conscious, these individuals are often from ethnic backgrounds where vegetarianism is widespread.”

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Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is Australia's best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
Samantha Wilson
P: (03) 9224 5268


vegetarianism, vegetarians, meat-free, health, anxiety




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