According to a report titled “Hungry for Plant-Based: Consumer Insights”, approximately a third of New Zealanders say they are reducing their meat consumption.
The report, commissioned by non-profit think tank Food Frontier and plant-based food brand, Life Health Foods, surveyed 1,107 New Zealanders, and found that one in three, which represents 1.5 million people, consciously limit their meat consumption. The number of meat-eating New Zealanders who have reduced meat consumption grew by 24 percent over the past year, and an additional 18 percent now identify as themselves as “flexitarians.”
According to the report the main motivation for reducing meat was health related, closely followed by environment concerns, animal welfare, cost, and the increasing availability of plant-based alternatives. Those meat-eaters who were not yet cutting back their consumption indicated they would likely start soon, citing their main motivation being to reduce risks of cancer and strokes, and believing eating less meat would improve their overall health.
Red meat and health
Recently many groups, including the American Cancer Institute, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), and Cancer Research UK, have been promoting a plant-based diet as a health-related preventative measure, with studies linking red and processed meat to increased risks of cancer.
“The evidence on processed meat and cancer is clear-cut. The data shows that no level of intake can confidently be associated with a lack of risk. Processed meats are often high in salt, which can also increase the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease,” said Professor Martin Wiseman, WCRF International’s Medical and Scientific Adviser.
Who’s eating less meat?
The reported also found that Baby Boomers are leading the way as meat-reducers – they represented 44 percent of the group. 41 percent of vegans and 42 percent of vegetarians were Millenials.
In addition it was found that more than six in ten have tried or want to try new vegan products. “Retailers and food businesses are working hard to deliver new and improved meat alternatives, so people don’t have to compromise to find convenient and familiar foods, like mince and meatballs, that address their growing health, environmental or ethical concerns,” Food Frontier CEO Thomas King was quoted as saying. Products varied between “traditional” alternatives and “next-generation” foods, with consumers seeking plant-based alternatives high in protein and free from “artificial ingredients.”