Rise in vegetarianism: Are farmers worried?

A farming leader believes the future for New Zealand meat producers is bright, despite a survey showing a surge in people switching to vegetarianism.

The survey by Colmar Brunton found 15 percent of Kiwis aged 18 and over always or mostly eat plant-based meals - an increase of 50 percent in the last year.

It also said 49 percent of Kiwis agree they need to change their diet to save the environment - suggesting the numbers of people going vegetarian could once again increase.

However Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says 95 percent of New Zealand meat is exported and is in high demand.

"Demand is, up until the coronavirus, pretty strong and taking off with swine flu hitting China, as they replaced pork with beef and sheep meat," Hoggard says.

He says while it could be something to bear in mind, he doesn't believe vegetarianism is a major issue for New Zealand farmers.

Andrew Hoggard says demand for meat is still high.
Andrew Hoggard says demand for meat is still high. Photo credit: Newshub

Hoggard also refutes claims from the New Zealand Vegetarian Society that not eating meat is better for the environment, and says food waste was a bigger issue.

"No matter what the food is, be it meat, dairy or plant, there have been greenhouse gases expended not only in growing but in transport and storage to get into freezers.

"And if it ends up in your deep freeze as some sort of mouldy science experiment, then all those greenhouse gases are completely wasted.

"That's the number one things, eat what you need to eat, don't waste it."

New Zealand Vegetarian Society spokesperson Phillip McKibbin says the result of the survey is great news.

"It shows that more of us now recognise that what we eat has consequences not only for our health, but for other animals and the natural environment as well."

The survey said Kiwis are worried about climate change, sustainability and waste with almost half saying they want the Government to lead the way on climate change.