The prevalence of vegetarians, vegans and other dietary patterns that exclude some animal-source foods in a representative sample of New Zealand adults

Public Health Nutr. 2023 Dec 5;27(1):e5. doi: 10.1017/S1368980023002677.


Objective: This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of vegetarians, vegans and other dietary patterns that exclude some animal-source foods in New Zealand adults. We also examined socio-demographic and lifestyle correlates of these dietary patterns.

Design: The New Zealand Health Survey is a representative rolling cross-sectional survey of New Zealanders; data from the 2018/19 and 2019/20 waves were used for this analysis. Participants were asked if they completely excluded red meat, poultry, fish/shellfish, eggs or dairy products from their diet.

Setting: New Zealand.

Participants: Adults, aged ≥ 15 years (n 23 292).

Results: The prevalence of red-meat excluders (2·89 %), pescatarians (1·40 %), vegetarians (2·04 %) and vegans (0·74 %) was low. After adjustment for socio-demographic and lifestyle factors, women (OR = 1·54, 95 % CI: 1·22, 1·95), Asian people (OR = 2·56, 95 % CI: 1·96, 4·45), people with tertiary education (OR = 1·71, 95 % CI: 1·18, 2·48) and physically active people (OR = 1·36, 95 % CI: 1·04, 1·76) were more likely to be vegetarian/vegan. Those aged ≥ 75 years (OR = 0·28, 95 % CI: 0·14, 0·53) and current smokers (OR = 0·42, 95 % CI: 0·23, 0·76) were less likely to be vegetarian/vegan. Similar associations were seen between socio-demographic and lifestyle factors and the odds of being a red-meat excluder/pescatarian.

Conclusions: Approximately 93 % of New Zealand adults eat red meat and a very small number exclude all animal products from their diets. The Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand adults recommend a plant-based diet with moderate amounts of animal-source foods. A comprehensive national nutrition survey would provide detailed information on the amount of red meat and other animal-source foods that the New Zealand population currently consumes.

Keywords: Dietary patterns; New Zealand; Pescatarian; Prevalence; Red meat; Vegan; Vegetarian.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Vegan*
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Dietary Patterns*
  • Humans
  • Meat
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Prevalence

Supplementary concepts

  • New Zealander people