FOR three years, Rockhampton's Anja Zemlicoff has opted for a tofu burger over a beef burger and it seems, more people are following suit, choosing soy beans over steak.
Recent research involving more than 1000 people showed 45% had actively tried to reduce meat in their diet and more than one in three had trialled vegetarianism.
Flexitarianism, where the diet was mostly vegetarian but sometimes included meat, fish or poultry, was fast becoming a new trend, with one in 10 claiming they were flexitarian.
While opting to turn vegan was a moral choice for Anja, the Rockhampton Vegetarian Group member praised people for reducing red meat to live a healthier lifestyle.
"People turn flexitarian generally for their health - that's good enough for me as red meat consumption is linked to heart disease and all sorts of things," she said.
Anja, 22, became a vegetarian "by accident" three years ago when she sat down to eat a hearty meaty meal, and started watching the documentary Earthlings.
"I thought it was about aliens, but then I started watching it, and it was about how meat gets to your plate. I put down my fork and haven't eaten meat since," she said.
Anja maintained a vegetarian lifestyle for two years, but then she turned vegan and cut all animal products from her diet.
"I didn't know the story behind the dairy industry - I learnt purchasing dairy products contributed to the veal industry," the 22-year-old said. She said people thought replacing protein was difficult, but keeping iron levels up was the biggest concern.
"You can get both protein and iron from vegetables and fruit - I also have a lot of vegan protein shakes to make sure I am getting enough protein ... like anything, if you do your research, you can see what fruit and vegetables have iron and protein in them."
"I still eat spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, hot dogs and all the naughty foods ... I eat everything, it's just about finding alternatives," she said.
- (Information sourced from www.eatforhealth.gov.au says a balanced diet is best)
- Eat a variety from each of the Five Food Groups:
- Vegetables, legumes/beans, fruit
- Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
- Milk, yoghurt cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans (eat 1-3 serves a day)
- Lean red meats are a particularly good source of iron, zinc and B12 and are easily absorbed - a maximum of seven serves per week is recommended
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