Brisbane, Australia: An Australian initiative that launched six years ago challenging people to ditch meat and embrace a plant-based diet is expected to attract a record number of participants this year. The No Meat May campaign encourages people to give up meat or go vegan, for the entire month of May.
To give up meat for 31 days might seem like a stretch for many, however, findings from Roy Morgan Research show that plant-based eating habits are on the rise. It found that between 2012 and 2016, the number of Australian adults whose diet comprised of all or almost vegetarian rose from 1.7 million people to almost 2.1 million people (11.2 percent of the population), evidence of a nationwide trend towards vegetarianism.
It’s not just vegetarianism that Aussies are embracing. Veganism is on the rise too. Australia is the third-fastest growing vegan food market in the world according to marketing research company Euromonitor International. With plant-based eating an increasingly popular food trend, vegetarian and vegan food options have become more accessible. There are more plant-based processed food products stocked in supermarkets across Australia. In restaurants located in the major cities, particularly Melbourne and Sydney, vegan meal options are abundant. There are also more plant-powered only restaurants popping up than ever before, places like Smith & Daughters in Fitzroy and Golden Lotus Vegan in Newtown offering such mouth-watering fare, that they’re frequented by vegans and carnivores alike.
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In addition, meat-eaters are actually choosing to consume less meat. With increasing awareness of the suffering of factory-farmed animals, environmental issues linked to animal agriculture and campaigns such as Meat-Free Monday (interchangeably called Meatless Monday), meat consumption has fallen.
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On the back of its research findings, Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director at Roy Morgan Research explains:
“Whether people are embracing a less meat-heavy diet for health, environmental or animal-welfare reasons, the fact remains that this trend looks set to continue. Not only has there been an increase in near or total vegetarianism across Australia, but almost 9.9 million Aussie adults (53.4%) agree that they’re ‘eating less red meat these days’.”
If you’re eating less meat, but want to challenge yourself further by committing to a meat-free month then No Meat May is an ideal challenge.
Co-founder Ryan Alexander believes this no-strings-attached opportunity to cut meat out from one’s diet will have a collective positive impact. “If just 20 percent of Aussies participated in No Meat May, they would collectively save over 124 million animals and over 430,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in just that one month,” he points out.
“Animal Agriculture is a leading cause of climate change, rainforest destruction, species extinction, ocean dead zones, and freshwater consumption and it takes more than nine times the fossil fuel to produce one calorie of meat than it does for one calorie of plant protein. Once you start looking into it, the drivers to switching to a more plant-based diet are hard to argue with.” – Ryan Alexander, Co-founder No Meat May in a press statement
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While Alexander focusses on the facts and figures, his partner, co-founder Guy James Whitworth, focusses on positive story-telling to motivate people to meat-free eating habits. “Food should be about fun, pleasure and nourishment. While our message is inherently serious, no one wants to be preached to, and we believe behavioural change should be an exciting adventure.”
Can this month-long meat-free campaign really have a measurable impact? In short, yes. According to the organisation, each No Meat May participant will avoid seven kilograms of meat consumption and prevent approximately 108 kilograms of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. The organisation also revealed that 94 percent of past participants go on to reduce their total meat consumption and one-third permanently eliminate meat from their diets.
“We recognise that people change incrementally over time and No Meat May provides a safe stepping stone, evidence-based information, and support for that bold first step,” says Whitworth.
This year, in addition to offering participants delicious plant-based recipes and nutritional guidance, the organisation will also host a range of special events at their headquarters in Mascot, Sydney, including a conservation photography exhibition and plant-based cooking classes.
For more information or to signup to the No Meat May challenge, visit nomeatmay.net.
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