Kiwis eating less red meat – research

More than half of Kiwis say they are eating less meat, and a quarter expect to be mostly meat-free by 2025 as they focus on their health and budget, according to a new survey.

It seems the days of a nightly meal of meat and two veg may soon be behind us too, with one in five of those surveyed (21 per cent) saying they choose to have a meat-free dinner for more than half of the week.

The Bean Supreme survey which investigated the eating habits of more than 1,000 New Zealanders found that one in four (24 per cent) of those surveyed expect to be mostly meat-free within the next seven years.

Health played a key role in their selection of a vegetarian meal choice with four in 10 (42 per cent) respondents giving this reason, this was followed by cost (28 per cent) and concerns for animal welfare or the environment 14 percent. Only two percent of those surveyed said they did not eat meat due to religious considerations.

Around 14 per cent of Kiwi women and 13 per cent of Kiwi men do not eat red meat, with health a primary driver for males (44 per cent vs 41 per cent of females) and cost more relevant to women (for 30 per cent of women vs 25 per cent of men).

The survey also found that Kiwis were more likely to reduce their meat consumption and instead, opt for vegetarian meals as they aged. According to the results, one in five (21 per cent) 18-24 years olds (compared to half of those aged 65 or older) selected ‘health concerns’ as the main reason for choosing a meat-free meal.

Millennials aged 18-24 were the most common age group to believe they would follow a diet that was mainly meat-free over the coming decade.

When it came to special dietary requirements it was Aucklanders who said they were most likely to follow vegan or vegetarian nutritional plans with those in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regions less keen on embracing this trend.

Wellingtonians and Otago/Southland residents were most open to adopting a flexitarian/semi-vegetarian approach to dining – with nine in ten (88 per cent) removing meat from their diets at least once a week.

The survey also revealed that vegetarians and vegans were most frequently found to be aged 25-54, female and live in Auckland or Canterbury.

While more than eight in ten (81 per cent) Kiwis include red meat in their diet, a seventh (14 per cent) excluded red meat with 1 per cent of the population identifying as vegan, 2 per cent as vegetarian and almost one in 10 (9 per cent) saying they ate poultry or fish but not red meat.

Liz O’Meara from Bean Supreme says it was interesting to see that a similar proportion of men and women chose not to eat meat but men were more likely to choose vegetarian meals for health reasons and women more likely to chose vegetarian options for their lower cost.

“Kiwis’ developing interest in a ‘flexitarian’ diet has led to the introduction of more products which fit this lifestyle option,” she said.

“According to new industry data, NZ sales of products made from plant based ingredients such as vegetarian burgers, sausages, tofu and falafel increased by over 20 per cent in the last year alone.”