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Vegetarianism on the rise in New Zealand

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source New Zealand, July 2010 - June 2011 n = 11,936 and July 2014 - June 2015 n = 5,983 New Zealanders 14+

2016 has so far been a period of highs and lows for New Zealand’s growing vegetarian population: over 2000 signed a 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.

Proportions of Kiwis who agree ‘The food I eat is all, or almost all, vegetarian’

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source New Zealand, July 2010 - June 2011 n = 11,936 and July 2014 - June 2015 n = 5,983 New Zealanders 14+

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.”

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Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%