Veganism in Australia – More Than a Rising Food Trend

By all appearances, plant-based eating seems to have gained a firm foothold in Australia. According to research company Roy Morgan, about 12.1 percent of Australians – that’s nearly 2.5 million people – were on mostly vegetarian diets in 2019, showing an increase from 11.4 percent in 2014.

Although the number of actual vegans – people who do not consume or use any animal products (and by-products) – is uncertain, Vegan Australia estimates that there are about 400,000 to 500,000 of them in the country.

The impact of veganism on the food industry, however, is palpable.

Mintel, a global marketing research firm, reports that Germany (17 percent), the United States (15 percent) and the United Kingdom (12 percent) lead global food and drink launches with vegan claims from the September 2013 to August 2018 period.

As well, Jane Barnett, Mintel’s South Asia Pacific head of insights, says that more products with a vegan label are being launched. In Australia, 8.7 percent of new products are labelled vegan or as having no animal ingredients. Furthermore, Barnett says that 14 percent of Australians intend to go vegetarian or vegan, while 22 percent plan on reducing their meat consumption.

The rise of veganism from its position of relative obscurity is driven largely by innovation in the food industry. Vegan food products have continually improved in taste and quality. Vegan alternatives to popular meat and dairy food ingredients are also continuously being launched, as noted by IBISWorld, an industry research firm. Popular food chains like Hungry Jack, McDonald’s, IHOP, Domino’s, Nandos and Grill’d already offer vegetarian menu options.

Hungry Jacks Vegan Burger
Source: Hungry Jacks

Aside from vegan food alternatives becoming more accessible, varied and palatable, health, environmental and ethical concerns also prompt Australians to eat more plant-based food and to go vegetarian and vegan.

It also helps that the local supermarket scene has also made going vegan so much easier for Australians. Various vegetarian friendly products are widely available in supermarkets, featuring brands like Veggie Delights, Frys, Quorn and Linda McCartney. There’s also Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher where you can get an assortment of tasty, flavourful vegan meats.

Suzy Spoon Vegetarian Butcher
Here is Suzy, from Suzy Spoon Vegetarian Butcher in Newtown.
Photography: Alana Dimou for Broadsheet

Australian vegan restaurants and those offering vegan options are also plentiful. These restaurants not only serve a variety of vegetarian and vegan fare but the food they serve is also a delight to the eyes and the palate. These include:

New South Wales: Bliss & Chips, Manna Haven and Soul Burger
Victoria: Lentils As Anything, Smith & Deli and Vegie Hut Chinese
Gold Coast and Queensland: Cheeky Yam and Charlie’s Raw Squeeze
South Australia: Vego and Loven it and Veggo Sizzle
Northern Territory: Eat at Martin’s, Buda bar
Western Australia: Flora & Fauna, Chic Pea Vegan Café

Although not all Australian chefs that prepare vegan food are vegans themselves, there are ones like Chef Alejandro Cancino, former chef at Urbane and owner of Lola’s Pantry and Fenn Foods, who transitioned into veganism after making an effort to learn about it. Then there’s Chef Shannon Martinez, Australian chefs who eats meat and cooks vegan food professionally. She owns two successful vegan food businesses with Mo Wyse (pictured below) that are well-known for serving tasty vegan fare: Smith & Daughters and Smith & Deli.  

Shannon Martinez & Mo Wyse
Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse from Smith & Daughters and Smith & Deli.
Photography: Benn Wood 

This only goes to show that veganism is no longer just a food trend but a lifestyle that’s getting the recognition it deserves. The fact that the food manufacturing and restaurant industries continue to innovate to address the demand for vegan food alternatives attests to this.