Vegetarianism on the rise

A vegetarian meal

One in 10 New Zealanders are vegetarian or mostly meat-free, according to the Better Futures report, almost double the number from five years ago.

The report, commissioned by environmental welfare group Generation Zero found that while plastic waste tops the list of concerns, there has been a steady increase in New Zealanders adopting a vegetarian or flexitarian diet.

Countdown general manager of quality, safety and sustainability Kiri Hannifin said that there were more and more meat alternatives appearing on supermarket shelves.

“We are seeing a huge increase in the demand for more plant-based meal solutions such as veggie burgers, ‘mince’ made from plants, and other proteins like falafel. Even ice cream is going vegan.”

The trend is being reflected in restaurants as well. Last year, Hillside Kitchen and Cellar, one of Wellington’s best-reviewed restaurants, took meat off the menu.

“It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think this is a chance to improve on what we are doing,” said owner and chef Asher Booth at the time. “The growing conversation around these things is huge and the stats are that more and more people are eating a lower amount of meat or no meat, so we are just moving with the times really.”

“We are not changing our philosophy, just our ingredients. I don’t necessarily see it as a negative stepping away from something. I think it might reach a few more people who wouldn’t have thought about us and it kind of sets us apart.”