As Australians, we’re truly blessed to live in such a wealthy country. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Australia is the 2nd wealthiest nation in terms of wealth per adult after Switzerland.
We’re a mixed market economy with relatively low unemployment rates. We also know how to take advantage of our wealth—with the average household was estimated to have spent $74,301 on general household living costs in 2016.
So let’s call it what it is, Australians are generally very well off, and we have spending habits to back it up.
While high spending rates help aid the growth of our economy, this rapid level of consumerism does not bode well for animals and the environment.
Although there’s a reason to feel encouraged. Research conducted by Roy Morgan found that the number of Australians who are vegetarian or are actively reducing meat in their diet has risen from 1.7 million people (9.7% of the population) to 2.1 million (11.2% of the population) between 2012 and 2016.
Animals Australia measured the impact of 400,000 new Australian vegetarians and revealed that:
This is incredible growth in the cruelty-free movement, but there’s much more we can do - and it starts with our spending habits.
Let's have a look at where our money is going and how to redirect some of that into more conscious, cruelty free industries.
Please note that the data referenced in this article is from Money Smart’s report on Australian spending habits in 2016.
This is a large number, but hardly surprising considering how much Aussie’s love their meat and seafood. It’s part of Australian culture to roast, fry and barbeque animals and share it with their loved ones.
Luckily, there are lots of plant-based mock meat alternatives on the market. Vegie Delights is an Aussie vegan meat brand that produces everything from beef patties to hot dogs and even bacon rashers! It’s generally available in Coles and Woolworths as well as some independent supermarkets.
For those meat pie lovers, you can’t go past popular vegan pie brand Funky Pies. My personal favourite is the Funky Chunky.
In addition to mock meats as an alternative to meat and seafood are beans and legumes. Pound for pound the legume family pack a much larger punch of protein than animal meat, and it’s much healthier for you as well—with significantly reduced fat in comparison to meat.
Okay, so obviously Australians love to have a drink.
But... Unfortunately, there are hidden ingredients many alcohol products have that come from animals. It’s common that gelatin, dairy, honey, egg whites, and even seashells are used in the production of beer, wine and liquor.
Fortunately, there are lots of products that do not use animals in their production. A go-to resource to find out what alcohol is vegan-friendly is Barnivore. Just go to their website and type the name of a drink you’re considering, and it will tell you if it’s vegan-friendly or not.
People are generally not as attached to alcohol brands as they are food, so making a switch to a cruelty-free drink should be a breeze.
Tip: if you plan on going out with friends, research what you will drink in advance to make the process of buying drinks seamless when you’re out having a good time.
Tea and coffee is another Australian staple - whether it’s drinking out or brewing your own at home.
Our love for these hot drinks increases demand for dairy milk - which is a cruel industry. Dairy cows are cyclically inseminated to start their birth cycle to produce milk. Their calves are then taken away from them after birth. Then if that wasn’t enough, once they can no longer produce milk dairy cows are taken away for slaughter.
To prevent this from happening, we need to look at plant-based alternatives to dairy milk. Luckily, milk can be made from many different plants, including soy, coconut, seeds, and a variety of nuts.
Australia’s consumption of plant-based milk is on the rise—which is slowing down the demand and therefore the supply of dairy milk. Between 2016 and 2017 dairy milk dropped by 6.9 per cent as a result of consumers voting for plant-based alternatives.
What’s exciting about this space is the quality of plant milk being made. Gone are the days of nut milks with a watery consistency. Brands like Bonsoy a producing incredibly creamy milk products which are organic and the perfect addition to your flat white coffee.
The traditional supply chain of beauty products involves the use of animals on multiple levels. Firstly there are the ingredients. Check out this list of 10 Common Cosmetic Ingredients Derived From Animal Produtcs. Secondly, animals are often used to test the safety of cosmetic products.
It’s estimated that over 100,000 animals suffer die each year from cosmetic testing. These animals include rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice. By buying cosmetic products that test on animals, we are effectively paying these companies to continue to kill more animals. So we need to get creative about how we spend 7.1 billion dollars each year on such products.
Thankfully, there’s a strong emergence of cruelty-free beauty brands that are made from plants, safely tested on humans, and perform magnificently. Having said that, these brands are small in comparison to your mainstream cosmetic brands, so you’ll likely need to source these products online or check out your local health food store.
I would recommend checking out ethical online store Biome for their range of beauty products. They’ve done the hard work of screening the supply chain and performance of cosmetics for you.
Fashion is one of the largest industries in Australia, and also one of the largest producers of waste.
According to YouGov research 75% of Australian’s have thrown clothes away in the last year, and 30% have thrown away more than ten items of clothing in the past year. Just think about all of those materials sitting in landfill. And we’re contributing billions of dollars each year to this epidemic. And that’s just one side of the equation.
Leather, fur, wool, feathers and silk are staple products in the fashion industry. Billions of animals are tortured, slaughtered and processed each year to support our fashion purchases. Aussie’s have an opportunity to go for quality over quantity when it comes to filling out their wardrobes. We need to invest in slow-fashion to reduce waste and even think about how we can extend the life of our clothes.
We also need to invest in alternatives to animal skins in our garments and leverage emerging materials in the plant-based world.
Admittedly, there’s a lack of transparency in the supply chain in the fashion industry comparatively to food. Labelling is limited, and quite often sales staff at traditional retail outlets do not have specific information on how products are made and how long they’ll last.
You’ll need to skill up in how you shop for cruelty-free fashion that doesn’t compromise your style. Here’s a list of 25 Online Ethical Fashion Stores to help you get started.
Within each major industry of discretionary spending, there are growing cruelty-free alternatives. It’s now up to us as consumers to start reallocating our spending habits to support vegan-friendly businesses.
Reinvesting billions of dollars each year in cruelty-free products will send a huge message to suppliers—which will ultimately spare the lives of billions of animals.
So next time you want to buy some meat, alcohol, coffee, makeup, or clothes, think about all of the alternatives you have at your disposal. Every purchase counts.
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