PETA: Aussies going vegan 'in droves'


Sir – Mr Manicaros from the Cattlemen’s Association (Letters, 5/5) can protest ’til the cows come home — to reputable sanctuaries — but his argument holds little water for compassionate Australians, who are going vegan in droves.
Kind consumers are rejecting substances known to be cruel, climate-hostile, and carcinogenic.
The World Cancer Research Fund unequivocally states that red meat and processed meats can cause colorectal cancer — and they are thriving on healthy vegan food.
A friendly statistics correction for Mr Manicaros: Over 12% of Australians said they eat vegetarian, or mainly vegetarian, when quizzed in 2018.
That’s an increase of 2.2 million people since a similar survey in 2014. If these numbers continue to grow, and there’s no question they will, Mr Manicaros’s fellow cattlemen may wish to shift their production model to ethical vegan meats.
Unlike packing plants or slaughterhouses, these businesses have carried on throughout the crisis without the same contagion statistics that we have seen here and overseas.
Perhaps it is easier to practice social distancing when slicing beans.
Meat is not an essential service: It is actively harmful in innumerable ways. Let’s use this pandemic as motivation to flourish on a diet of fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and the occasional vegie-burger.
We will all be the better for it.
Mimi Bekhechi
Campaigns Adviser
PETA Australia


  1. Correlation does not equal causation.
    The most likely risk with meat is in the processed form, such as pepperoni and bacon. They contain a higher level N-Nitroso compounds. But this in itself is not certain.
    Indian people, who eat less red meat than say Italian people, who eat a lot of processed meat, have an average life expectancy of nearly 15 years more than Indian people. Clearly there is a whole range of reasons, lifestyles and economics at play.
    Meat is one of – if not the most – nutrient packed foods available. That is undoubtedly the reason why humans are both omnivores and the most widespread animal species.
    The ability to eat such a nutrient packed food is a biological advantageous adaptation. Inuit people survived almost exclusively on meat. These incredible people would not exist if they tried to go vegan in the great north.
    Bringing compassion into the equation is a cheap argument. There are respectful and decent ways to operate a live stock industry. Humans, like all animals, are part of the food chain. It is our natural born right to hunt and to eat.
    Biologically, there is a simple truth, which a marketing campaign nailed perfectly: “Meat – we were made to eat it.”
    Our very existence is the result of our historical diets. It made us who we are. It changed our physiology and our brain.
    Mimi, your existence on this planet is the direct consequence of your ancestors eating meat.
    Chew on that one.

  2. Mimi Bekhechi can argue all she likes about who is or isn’t moving away from red meat. But the simple fact is that red meat demand and consumption has increased substantially during this pandemic.
    She also claims there has been a 12% rise in people identifying as vegan or vegetarian but she doesn’t quantify her statement with a source.
    I regularly see both industry and independent research and the 12%t figure claim is nowhere near the figures I’ve seen on very large sample sizes – in the thousands and carried out by universities.
    People can choose to eat what they wish – but groups like PETA don’t need to shove their views down anyone’s throats.
    The individual should decide what they wish to eat.

  3. From an athlete’s point of view, a vegan diet sends up dietary red flags.
    Haem iron, which is best provided by red and white meat, is essential for a healthy body.
    For an athlete in heavy training, for example a marathon runner, the body quickly breaks down if haem iron is not properly absorbed into the muscle.
    Female athletes are in particular danger. I have seen what a lack of haem iron absorption has done to a world champion female triathlete. Ended her career.
    Lack of haem iron can cause serious heart problems.
    Vegan advocates such as PETA never seem to talk about this issue.


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