Aussie Agriculture and Vegetarians: Best of Friends?

By Annabelle Amos

Vegetarianism is on the rise in Australia, and I can’t help but wonder why this might be the case.

I’m talking about proper vegetarians here, not “flexitarians”. These are fully-fledged, no-joke vegetarians who, according to the Vegetarian Victoria website, where vegetarianism is defined as:

Vegetarianism is the practice of living on products of the plant kingdom, with or without the use of eggs and dairy products, but excluding entirely the consumption of any part of the body of an animal as food (including chicken, fish and seafood). The term “vegetarian” means a person who follows such practice, or describes such a person, creature, establishment or food pertaining to vegetarianism.

Being from a sheep and cattle property, I never really understood the whole vegetarian diet – we produce meat for other people to enjoy. Why cut that out of your diet? Then I grew older, my education was diversified – particularly during my first year of uni. I recently came to realise that just because someone is vegetarian, doesn’t mean they aren’t support the Australian agricultural system.

Do you actually know what's in tofu? Just some soy beans and epsom salt.

Do you actually know what’s in tofu? Just some soy beans and epsom salt.

When you think about it a little more, vegetarians probably have a very strong connection to agriculture in Australia. If it weren’t for vegetarians, who would eat the amazing fresh fruit and vegetable produce by the kilo?

And now I speak about the flexitarians: probably one of the largest group of people who support the poultry industry. Real vegetarians don’t eat eggs, but lets think about all those vegetarians that eat eggs. How else would they get protein?

According to the Vegetarian Times, there are eight different foods that all vegetarians need to have in their diet in order to have all their daily nutrition. On that list of eight things, every single food – including tofu – if from a type of agriculture produced in Australia.

Now admittedly, I had to Google “how to make tofu” and I was pleasantly surprised to see that tofu is actually made out of a truck-load of soy beans and epsom salt. Nothing else to it really.

Here’s the list, for those who might be interested:

1. Tofu

2. Lentils

3. Beans

4. Nuts

5. Grains

6. Leafy Greens

7. Seaweeds

8. Dried Fruits

If I’m being completely honest, I don’t understand what’s so appealing about a diet filled with foods that high in fibre, but it’s good to see that everything on that list is actually grown in Australia.

So before you go accusing vegetarians of being ignorant of Australian agriculture and the welfare of farmers, bare in mind there are other types of farmers out there besides sheep, cattle, and any other edible animal.

I was going to write about how people on gluten free diets relate to Australian agriculture, but to keep it short and simple – it’s pretty much the reverse of vegetarians. People who are gluten free can’t eat anything containing gluten – which is pretty much every type of grain aside from corn and rice. But just think about how much meat they eat to make up for the lack of protein acquired through lentils and nuts!

– Annabelle Amos



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