Food for thought

G Magazine

As an avid meat eater turned vegetarian, Wally Fry believes there’s no denying the facts.


Credit: iStockphoto

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New research shows that almost a third of Australians are eating less meat than they were five years ago, proving Australian attitudes towards vegetarianism are shifting. This is an encouraging statistic, considering the benefits of going meat-free.

Though my wife, Debbie, and daughter, Tammy, were born as vegetarians, I wasn’t. I used to eat a lot of meat, believing it was essential, but eventually I started to question whether it really was. As an owner of a
construction company, 25 years ago, I was commissioned to build factory farms for chickens – that was my turning point, I’ve been vegetarian since.

The health benefits of a vegetarian diet and eating less meat are significant. If we reduced our meat intake the world would see a reduction in the risk of heart disease and a probable reduced risk of certain cancers, diabetes and obesity.

The benefits of becoming vegetarian have been evident in my own life – I feel stronger and healthier, and have a more positive outlook on life.

It’s not just ethical and health benefits – if there were more vegetarians, there would be a positive impact on the environment too.

It requires 500 times as much land to produce one kilogram of beef as it does to produce one kilogram of vegetables, making the benefits of going meat-free if only for one day, very clear. According to the CSIRO and the University of Sydney, a massive 92 percent of all land degradation in Australia is caused by animal industries. Plant agriculture, mining, forestry, manufacturing, residential building and all other industries account for the remainder.

Raising animals for food also requires enormous amounts of water. It takes between 50,000 and 100,000 L of water to produce 1 kg of beef compared to only 2,500 L to produce 1 kg of white rice; much less for fruit and vegetables.

If all Americans ate no meat, chicken or fish for just one day a week, it would result in the same CO2 savings as taking 19.2 million cars off the road for a year!

Overall meat production impacts so heavily on our health, our environment, food security and the welfare of animals, that reducing meat consumption is probably the single most important thing Australians can do for the future of our planet.

Fortunately, these days eating vegetarian is much easier. There are so many options now available, that it is
increasingly popular as a dietary choice by Australians who sincerely care about what is happening in our world today.

Every stone you throw into the pond has a ripple effect, throw the smallest stone possible!

Wally Fry went on to become the co-founder of Fry’s Vegetarian foods.