A couple of weeks ago, I received an email inviting me to attend a lunch hosted by Wally Fry, creator of Fry’s Vegetarian. I was promised the chance to meet Wally as well as a tantalising vegan taste-testing menu, an offer I simply could not refuse!
I’ve been a fan of Fry’s Vegetarian for ages so meeting the man behind the magic was an honour. The invitation also mentioned Wally would be presenting on some new findings about vegetarianism in Australia, information I was interested in hearing.
So yesterday I hitched a ride to Sydney to attend this lunch, super-psyched to try some vegan eats and pumped to meet Mr. Fry. I walked into the Hunky Dory Social Club on Oxford Street and was greeted with a plethora of non-alcoholic cocktails and introduced to some interesting people who had also been invited.
We were asked to take our seats on the sunny rooftop and Wally was introduced. He began to talk about how Fry’s came to be, what it is today and what it will be in the future. He regaled us with the tale of how he became vegetarian, a journey which began with Wally being a farmer and avid meat lover. His daughter and now Marketing Director, Tammy, planted the seed when she asked him what she was eating. After explaining she was eating a chicken leg, Tammy asked why it was killed. Of course we all know why it was killed, to be eaten, and this did not sit well with Wally. He then moved into construction and it was after visiting one of his projects, sow stalls for a pig farm, that Wally became vegetarian.
While we ate from a menu of vegan miniature burgers, nuggets, schnitzels and sausage rolls, Wally moved onto the new findings on vegetarianism in Australia. Since I love a good list, I’ma put this in point form.
- 63 percent of Australian meat eaters are willing to go vegetarian for one day a week.
- 86 percent believe vegetarian meals are kinder on nature while a further 75 percent believe they are more environmentally friendly.
- 45 percent of meat eating Australians would go vegetarian for a day for their sake of their health and wellbeing.
- 32 percent believe they are eating less meat than they were five years ago, 45 percent have eaten at least one vegetarian meal in the last week.
Pretty interesting stats, huh? It just goes to show how much awareness for vegetarianism and veganism has increased! In saying that though, 35 percent of Australians believe it’s un-Australian not to eat meat, 60 percent would even rather cater for their in-laws or a backpacker over a vegetarian. Sheesh, we’re not that difficult, are we?! Because of this, 57 percent of vegetarians feel that they aren’t catered for at the traditional Aussie barbie, something I’m all too familiar with.
After being hit with these facts, I was lucky enough to grab a few minutes with Wally. He’s a very well educated man, witty and well-versed in vegetarianism. He himself isn’t a vegan (he doesn’t eat a lot of dairy or eggs) but he understands the importance of vegetarian products being suitable for vegans. He explained that other manufacturers simply don’t have the technology to be able to produce delicious vegan stuff, I also think they’re lazy.
I then asked him how the products go from conception to the freezer and was surprised when he said he basically has an idea, then experiments in the kitchen until he gets it just right. To still be in the kitchen after all these years is testament to how committed he is to the Fry’s brand.
And boy does he have a lot of ideas, if you check out the Fry’s website there’s a whole bunch of products we don’t have here yet, like the Louisiana Tenders and his personal favourite, Polony. I asked Wally if they’d be hitting our shores anytime soon and if he has anything to do with it, we will.
It was a wonderful opportunity to meet with Wally and a bunch of likeminded people and of course to eat some delicious food. Whether you’re vegetarian or vegan, I think we can all agree with Wally when he says “how can you say you love something and then kill it?”