Will vegans outnumber meat-eaters?
Humans evolved by eating meat.
This is one argument disputing veganism made by The Washington Post and TIME magazine.
A debate inconceivable a century ago for historically, the media rebuked veganism.
Australia’s turn of acceptance
In 1910, The Argus coupled “fleshless vegetarianism” with bodily weakness and failing organs.
Come the new millennium, social media and digital streaming brought irrevocable change.
Vegan activists like the 330 plus worldwide groups of The Save Movement began to bypass traditional media.
Brisbane chapter’s organiser, Amanda Holly, uses Facebook for sharing footage of the group’s vigils at abattoirs.
“We want to show the public the faces of the animals that they are eating,” Ms Holly said.
Vegan celebs also advocate via social media including Miley Cyrus and fiancé, Australian actor Liam Hemsworth, who spruiked vegan documentary, What the Health.
As does former Australian cricket fast-bowler,
Gillespie goes vegan
In 2013, Gillespie witnessed his father’s fatal heart attack.
Foreseeing his own future, he began researching nutrition and plant-based eating.
Gillespie said he made the commitment to veganism after watching a scene from the documentary, Earthlings.
Gillespie describes the moment that turned him vegan.
Now coaching English county cricket, Gillespie said most had accepted his lifestyle change.
“It doesn’t seem to be seen as being this wacko, out-there new concept.
“If you explain the reasons why – people actually – I think deep down, it makes sense to them – you know, not hurting animals, eating food that’s grown, not born,” he said, “but they’re so engrained in what they’ve grown up being told, that it’s very difficult for people to change.”
Echoing the UN among many others, Gillespie said eating meat is unsustainable with population growth.
“We are feeding farm animals all the food that we should be eating … get rid of the middle man and just eat the plant-based food.
“I don’t think we, as humans, have a choice,” he said.
— Jason Gillespie 🌱🌈 (@dizzy259) June 5, 2018
According to the UN, more than 45 per cent of Earth’s land surface is used for grazing livestock or growing animal feed.
The UN said meat agriculture is the world’s most urgent problem which has brought us to the “verge of catastrophe”.
Australian dietitian, Rosemary Stanton, supports a plant-based diet future, albeit with some animal products.
“Certainly, if the whole world started eating as much meat as is consumed in Australia, it would be completely unsustainable,” Ms Stanton said.
OECD figures show Australians consume about 21kg of meat each per year, earning sixth-place for meat consumption at triple the world average.
We can be healthy without meat, said Ms Stanton, but even so, some are resistant to cut down.
“Some are, especially men who still associate meat with strength – possibly a hangover from the old ‘feed the man meat’ campaigns of the 60s and 70s …
“Some people have also been conned into thinking their diet will lack iron … or even be low in protein,” she said.
Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) declined to comment.
The Australian Meat Industry Council gave a statement saying consumers were entitled to their beliefs and choices.
“Our role is to support our members like butchers to continue to promote the virtues of meat protein in a balanced diet,” the statement said.
Numbers bring change
Evidently, the number of people turning vegan, or in contrast, adding meat, varies geographically.
For example, we’re trying to sell dumplings to the Chinese made with Australian red meat, which are traditionally pork or prawn.
Across in the UK, vegan numbers almost tripled over the last decade according to The Times and in the US, numbers grew fivefold between 2014-2017.
Gillespie said he’d noticed the changes in the UK, especially where he lives in Sussex.
“There’s so many vegan restaurants, places to eat, vegan shops – it’s absolutely brilliant, I love it,” he said.
“Having said that, in Australia, things are moving in that direction too which is a real positive”.
In fact, Australians topped the list for googling veganism, followed by New Zealanders, Canadians and Americans.
Yet, it wasn’t until 2013 that Australia legitimised veganism in its dietary guidelines.
The number of vegan food products sold in Australia doubled in the three years after.
Flame-grilled beef burger purveyor, Hungry Jacks, recently released vegan cheeseburgers while McDonald’s have sold McVegan burgers in Sweden and Finland since 2017.
Of course, some flak is to be expected.
Queensland Country Life’s opinion piece called veganism a “spirited but grotesque race to the bottom, in which Australian farmers will be the big losers, if ever these forces are allowed to prevail”.