Vegetarianism on the rise in New Zealand
2016 has so far been a period of highs and lows for New Zealand’s growing vegetarian population: over 2000 signed a Change.org petition calling for Countdown to introduce a vegan aisle (but the supermarket chain said no), and Z Energy’s new vegan pie was a big hit (until it came out in the new year that the pastry contains just a pinch of ground-up poultry feathers).
With meat-free diets in the news, Roy Morgan Research has found the proportion of Kiwis who say the food they eat is all, or almost all, vegetarian has grown 27% since 2011—with growth sharpest among a few key groups: 14-34 year-olds, North Islanders, and men.
10.3% of New Zealanders (14+) said they were always or mostly vegetarian in research conducted during the 12 months to June 2015, up from 8.1% four years earlier. While the incidence of vegetarianism is up across all major demographic segments, the strongest growth has been among Men (up 63% from 5.7% to 9.3%), 14-24 year-olds (up 55% from 8.6% to 13.3%), 25-34 year-olds (up 45% from 9.5% to 13.8%), and those on the North Island (up 32% from 8.4% to 11.1%).
The rate of vegetarianism drops sharply among 35-49 year-olds (8.1%), perhaps because, with kids to feed, it becomes more difficult to maintain a non-meat diet. Women remain slightly more likely than men to (try to) abstain from meat (11.3%), while just 7.8% of South Islanders eat only or almost only vegetarian food.
John La Rosa, General Manager Client Services - ANZ Roy Morgan Research, says:
“As more and more Kiwis at least attempt to live a vegetarian lifestyle, it will become increasingly important for a range of businesses—from supermarkets and their suppliers, to takeaway and fast food outlets—to understand this group.
“Our research shows that vegetarians are well over twice as likely as the average Kiwi to avoid dairy foods whenever possible (perhaps as part of a stricter vegan diet) or to try to buy only organic food. However they also are big consumers of frozen or chilled ready-prepared meals and takeaway foods who say they don’t have time to spend cooking.
“New Zealand is a meat-loving (and meat-producing) country and many vegetarians do still buy meat, whether for themselves or their families. In fact, almost half (48%) of New Zealand’s vegetarian grocery buyers purchase some form of fresh meat during the week. Supermarkets in particular will need to ensure they can cater to these vegetarian meat-buyers, providing organic, humanely sourced and trustworthy options.”