A new survey has found that almost one-third of Australians have reduced their meat consumption during the past year, with many turning to legumes for plant-based protein after entering into a peas treaty with their old omnivore diets.
In one of the largest studies of its kind, a team of researchers from Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology and La Trobe University surveyed more than 3,000 Australians to gauge their views and habits on meat consumption.
With just three per cent of responders confirming they increased their meat consumption in the past year, Griffith Business School lead researcher Dr Carla Riverola believes the data enforces the current trend of consumers showing an interest in cutting animal products out of their diet completely.
“People’s attitudes towards meat appear to be changing, and health concerns are one of the biggest drivers of the trend,” she said.
“Other reasons include environmental footprint, animal welfare and ethical concerns. Interestingly, the reasons for increasing meat consumption include social or peer influence and accessibility of plant-based products.”
“People are increasingly wanting to follow a balanced, healthy diet, including a variety of plant-based foods that are better for the environment and society as a whole,” she added.
Poultry came out on top as the most frequently consumed meat product, with consumers considering legumes the tastiest, healthiest, most natural, and sustainable source of plant-based foods.
The sample, which comprised more than 80 per cent female responders, preferred legumes over more traditional plant-based meat alternatives designed to mimic the look and taste of meat products (e.g. nuggets, mince, sausages, bacon, prawns).
The study also picked up on the frustrations of many Australians who are interested in eating more meat alternatives but find they’re not always available in shops and restaurants.
Nine in ten participants confirmed they frequently ate home-cooked meals, with 84 per cent saying they occasionally get takeaway meals.
More than half of respondents said availability and variety of options were key barriers to choosing plant-based foods, especially when eating out, which Dr Riverola said proves that the Australian market isn’t yet meeting demand.
“Plant-based eating has been one of the biggest global food trends of the last decade and, unfortunately, some food retailers and restaurants haven’t yet got up to speed and are missing out on potential business,” she said.
“Our study really shows that if you run a restaurant, having just one single vegan or vegetarian option on the menu just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
“Expectations have changed, so consumers will simply go elsewhere where more options are provided.”
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