Unfortunately there is little information available about the number of vegetarians in Australia, the number of vegetarian women vs. men, proportions of different age groups that are vegetarian etc. On the Australian Bureau of Statistics website (www.abs.gov.au) the only reference to vegetarianism we have found is in their publication 4802.0 National Nutrition Survey (1995) (refer below) where it simply states that 5% of girls aged between 16 and 18 reported being on a vegetarian diet.
Despite the limited Australian statistics about vegetarianism specifically, on this page we have endeavoured to include related statistics about Australia that may be of interest to vegetarians. We have also included the results from polls undertaken in the UK and the US which would give a very rough indication of the situation in Australia.

United Kingdom

Statistics compiled by the Vegetarian Society of the UK:
     – General Statistics since 2000
     – Industry Sales Figures since 1991
     – Children/Young People since 1990
     – General Stats from the 1990s
     – Summary of Realeat polls 1984 – to date
     – Statistics from the 1980s
     – Rationing Records 1945: 100,000 vegetarians

USA

Studies undertaken by Vegetarian Times
     – Vegetarianism in America 2008

National Polls undertaken by the Vegetarian Resource Group:
     – How Many Vegetarians Are There in the US?
     – 2009 Adult Poll
     – 2006 Adult Poll
     – 2003 Adult Poll
     – 2000 Adult Poll
     – 1997 Adult Poll
     – 1994 Adult Poll
     – 2000 Teen Poll
     – 1995 Teen Poll
     – 1999 Dining Poll (information on the numbers of people ordering meatless meals in restaurants) 

Australia

A Pound of Flesh (2010)
This Newspoll phone survey was undertaken with a random, representative sample of 1202 people across Australia. The survey was commissioned by the Vegetarian & Vegan Society of Queensland to find out how many vegetarians and vegans there are in Australia and people’s attitudes to animals.
The survey found that 5% of Australians said they were vegetarian while 1% said they were vegan. While 5% of people said they were vegetarian, only 2% actually ate a vegetarian diet. This may mean they ate a vegetarian diet most of the time, or that they misunderstood what a vegetarian is. Of the 1% of people who said they were vegan, only one person actually ate a vegan diet. The rest ate animal flesh, milk products or eggs at least some of the time.
One interesting finding is that 99% of Australians are against cruelty to animals, yet 98% eat animals and fish that come from cruel, intensive farming practices!
Source: A Pound of Flesh

Roy Morgan Research (2006)

According to Roy Morgan Research data, as of December 2006, 1,538,000 people in Australia aged 14 and over agree that “the food I eat is all, or almost all, vegetarian”. That equates to 9.1% of the population aged 14 and over.

Sanitarium Vegetarian Study (Newspoll) (Australian Component) (2000)

This study was part of national Newspoll omnibus research conducted among 1,200 Australians aged 18 years and over. Respondents were selected by means of a stratified random sample process and interviews were conducted by telephone over the period September 8-10, 2000. The research was commissioned by the Sanitarium Health Food Company.
Findings:
44% of Australians report eating at least one meat-free evening meal (that is not containing meat, poultry or fish) in the last seven days with 18% reporting at least three or more
2% of Australians report being vegetarian
18% of Australians say they prefer vegetarian meals
29% of Australians say they do not eat vegetarian meals at all
almost four in ten Australians (38%) would like to know more about interesting ways of cooking vegetarian meals
overall 43% of Australians report consuming more vegetarian meals now than they did a couple of years ago indicating a trend toward vegetarian eating
the highest trend toward vegetarian eating is seen in young Australians (18-24) with more than half (51%) reporting they eat more vegetarian meals than a couple of years ago
more than any other state, half of Western Australians agree they are eating more vegetarian meals now than a couple of years ago
around three in ten (29%) of NSW residents have bought vegetarian food from a takeaway, restaurant or café in the last 4 weeks
77% of Australians who eat vegetarian meals feel there are better vegetarian options at restaurants, café and takeaway outlets than 5 years ago
However, almost half of Australians (47%) feel limited by the range of vegetarian meals currently available when eating out
58% of young adult Australians (18-24 year olds) believe it’s difficult to get a variety of vegetarian meals when eating out.

4802.0 National Nutrition Survey (1995)

Adolescent girls were more likely to be on a special diet than boys. By the age of 16-18 years almost 20% of girls reported being on some form of special diet, 5% were on a vegetarian diet, 6% were on a weight reduction diet and a further 8% were on some other form of diet.
For men, consumption of fruit and fruit products increased with age, while daily intake of cereals and cereal-based products, milk and milk products, and meat poultry and game decreased. A similar pattern was observed for women.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

4306.0 Aussies turn to wine, fruit and vegetables (2000)

Australians decreased their meat intake with apparent per capita consumption of meat and meat products down 2.3 per cent to 71.6 kg in 1998-99, and down 10.3 per cent since 1988-89, when consumption was 79.8 kg. Major contributors to the decrease were beef and veal, down 4.5 per cent to 36.4 kg and mutton down 21 per cent to 4.5 kg per person.
Going against the downward trend in the consumption of beef, veal and mutton was an increase in consumption of seafood, which saw per capita consumption increase from 8.3 kg to 10.9 kg, a 31.3 per cent increase in the 10 years from 1988-89 to 1998-99.
During the period 1997-98 and 1998-99, fruit and fruit products (including fruit juices), consumption increased by 8.3 per cent from 124.7 kg per capita to 135.0 kg.
Consumption of vegetables has shown a steady 9.4 per cent increase over the last decade. Per capita consumption of tomatoes showed a significant increase from 20.9 kg in 1997-98 to 24.9 kg in 1998-99, a rise of 19 per cent. The category of other vegetables showed an increase in per capita consumption in 1998-99 of 4.6 per cent to 25.1 kg per capita.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

4306.0 Apparent Consumption of Foodstuffs, Australia (1938-1998)

Per capita consumption of meat and meat products

statistics1-percapitameat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Per capita consumption of fruit and fruit products

statistics2-percapitafruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Per capita consumption of vegetables

statistics3-percapitavegetables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Domestic Consumption of Beef and Veal
Over the past 40 years Australians’ eating habits have undergone many changes. Reasons for these changes include new cultural influences, health considerations, changes in relative prices of different foods and substitutes, product marketing and so on. While beef/veal continues to be one of the most popular meats, it has both enjoyed and suffered the effects of these changes.
Beef and veal consumption grew from 40 kg per person in the late-1960s to a peak of 70 kg in 1976-77, coinciding with record production and low prices. Ten years later, reflecting changing attitudes to red meat, consumption had fallen to 39 kg. This trend continued with consumption in 1995-96 falling to 36 kg per person. The small increase to 37 kg per person in 2002-03 was expected to precede a period over the next several years during which time consumption of beef and veal will run at about 35-36 kg per person. Such fluctuations are not new and reflect changes in the cattle industry as well as changes in social attitudes and economic conditions.

statistics4-percapitabeef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consumer preferences for alternative sources of protein have also changed with the main changes being the increased consumption of chicken and the reduced consumption of sheep meat. Consumption of chicken meat increased by 28% from 24 kg in 1988-89 to 31 kg per person in 1998-99. In 2002-03, per person consumption of chicken meat stood at 35 kg, with the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) expecting it to exceed consumption of beef/veal in 2003-04. Over the period from 1988-89 to 1998-99, sheep meat consumption fell from 22 kg per person to 16 kg, with a further decline to 14 kg expected in 2003-04.

By comparison, the consumption of pigmeat remained relatively constant through the 1990s at around 19 kg per person. It has since increased slightly and was expected to peak at 22 kg in 2003-04 before easing back to around the 20 kg mark. Seafood consumption remained in the 10-11 kg per person range during the 1990s but recent data suggests it may now almost rival sheep meat’s consumption rate.
Source: 1301.0 – Year Book Australia (2005), Australian Bureau of Statistics

Livestock and Poultry Slaughtered in Australia, June Quarter 2007
Livestock and poultry slaughtered in Australia
June Quarter 2007 (April-June)
Cattle 2,046,300
Calves 247,300
Sheep 3,015,900
Lambs 5,028,800
Pigs 1,329,300
Chickens 114,699,400
Source: Livestock Products – June Quarter 2007, Australian Bureau of Statistics
Livestock and Poultry Slaughtered in Australia for Human Consumption, 2004-2005
Livestock and poultry slaughtered in Australia
for human consumption, 2004-2005
Cattle
8,000,000
Calves
900,000
Sheep
11,400,000
Lambs
17,300,000
Pigs
5,300,000
Chickens
437,600,000
Other fowls and turkeys
10,200,000
Ducks and drakes
4,700,000
Source: 1301.0 – Year Book Australia (2006), Australian Bureau of Statistics

Meat Production and Slaughterings (1993-94 to 1998-99)
The two tables below show details of slaughtering and meat production from abattoirs, and from commercial poultry and other slaughtering establishments. They include estimates of animals slaughtered on farms and by country butchers. The data relate only to slaughtering for human consumption and do not include animals condemned or those killed for boiling down.
Production of Meat(a)

All figures in Thousands of Tonnes

Carcass Weight
Dressed Weight(b)(c)
Year
Beef
Veal
Mutton
Lamb
Pig Meat
Total Meat
Total All Chickens
Total Poultry(d)
1993-94
1,786
39
381
267
357
2,830
469
500
1994-95
1,766
38
354
268
365
2,791
467
499
1995-96
1,711
34
310
265
347
2,667
481
516
1996-97
1,772
38
296
270
336
2,712
488
524
1997-98
1,911
44
333
284
358
2,930
550
587
1998-99
1,973
38
302
312
370
2,994
564
607

(a) Excludes offal
(b) Excludes Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory
(c) Dressed weight of whole birds, pieces and giblets
(d) Includes other fowls, turkeys, ducks and drakes

Livestock and Poultry Slaughtered for Human Consumption
All figures in Millions of Head

Year
Cattle
Calves
Sheep
Lambs
Pigs
Chickens(a)(b)
Other Fowls(c) & Turkeys(b)
Ducks & Drakes(b)
1993-94
7.3
1
17.8
15
5.2
329.5
8
2.5
1994-95
7.2
1
17.5
15.3
5.1
330.5
8.7
2.3
1995-96
6.9
1
14.6
14.2
4.8
336.4
9.6
2.6
1996-97
7.3
1.1
14.4
14.6
4.8
340.9
10
3.1
1997-98
8.1
1.3
16.3
15
5.1
364.2
10.7
2.9
1998-99
7.9
1.2
14.4
16.1
5.2
375
10.2
3.5

(a) Comprises broilers, fryers and roasters
(b) Excludes Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory
(c) Comprises hens, roosters etc
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics