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The Australian vegetarian: Thin, sober and moody

By Ankush Chibber , 28-Oct-2013

The Australian vegetarian: Thin, sober and moody

More and more Australians are turning vegetarian, part of what is a slow but steady trend towards meat-free – or at least, meat-minimal – living in Australia, new research has suggested. 

According to figures from Roy Morgan Research, the number of Australians above the age of 14 who agree with the statement, ‘The food I eat is all, or almost all, vegetarian” has grown from 1.6m in 2009 to 1.9m as of June 2013.

These 1.9 million, the firm pointed out, account for 10% of all of Australia’s population and are more health-conscious than the average Australian—in both attitudes and behaviour.

Veggies go natural

Research also found that Australian vegetarians 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 “a low fat diet is a way of life for me.” They are also 23% likelier to “love to do as many sports as possible.”

“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,” said Nick Williams, healthcare consultant at Roy Morgan Research.

“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,” he added.

Likely conditions

He pointed out that for all the healthy living, vegetarians aren’t totally immune: they are 59% more likely than the average Australian to be or have been anemic in the last year and 24% likelier to have experienced an anxiety disorder.

“They’re significantly more likely to experience mood and behavioural disorders such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, anorexia or bulimia,” said Williams.

Research also showed that a meat-free lifestyle might 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.

“Our data also shows that they’re less likely to eat food high in fat or containing dairy, and more likely to exercise than the average Australian,” he added.