For the agricultural sector alone, farmed animals constitute nearly 80 percent of all emissions. All nations have a part to play in fighting the climate crisis, particularly developed nations like Australia and New Zealand.
But Australia is gradually coming around to tackling the climate crisis after decades of lagging behind the rest of the developed world.
The new Labor government, with the support of the Greens, recently passed the first piece of climate change legislation since 2011.
The Australian government has been, and largely continues to be, slow at making positive changes in the name of environmental sustainability.
New Zealand, despite its often glossy environmentalist image, also has issues with tackling greenhouse gas emissions.
There is generally more political will in New Zealand to tackle the climate crisis than in Australia, as demonstrated by bolder government legislation and initiatives such as carbon farming.
However, according to the New York Times, New Zealand is still “one of the largest polluters among developed nations on a per-capita basis”.
The image of New Zealand as an environmentalist trailblazer was further undermined last month when the government defended in court their decision to issue new oil and gas exploration permits – despite having declared a climate emergency less than two years ago.
The agriculture sector is the country’s largest contributor to gross greenhouse gas emissions, representing 50 percent of the entire nation’s emissions.
In Australia, according to Food Frontier, one in three Australians are consciously reducing their meat intake. According to research by Kantar, in 2022, 19 percent of New Zealanders are “mostly” or “always” eating a vegan or vegetarian diet.
The Vegan Society research is timely because consumers in New Zealand and Australia are beginning to demonstrate significant changes to their consumption habits. Many of those who have become vegan or are choosing to cut down on their meat intake are doing so out of concern for the planet.
The report also questioned consumers on their purchasing habits for cosmetics, fashion and household products. The research indicated that consumers are seeking out vegan products in these categories, particularly in fashion, although most consumers are primarily looking for vegan products in the food aisle or on menus.
The research suggests that there is indeed an appetite for plant-based products in Australia and New Zealand. This trend towards increased plant-based consumption, and away from the consumption of animal products, will play a key part in the shift towards greater sustainability in both Australia and New Zealand.
Alexander Huntley is a research assistant at The Vegan Society. He recently graduated from SOAS University of London with an MSc degree in the politics of conflict, rights and justice. He is a passionate human and animal rights advocate. You can find the full report here.