The New Zealand Vegetarian Society today challenged the report "The Nutritional Importance of Foods of Animal Origin" as lacking credibility.
"The industries producing Foods of Animal Origin must be very concerned about the increasing trend to vegetarianism," said NZVS spokesperson Yolanda Soryl, "But trotting out tired assumptions about vegetarian diets does nothing to challenge the real reasons why more and more New Zealanders are turning to a plant based diet."
Soryl, a vegetarian of 25 years, cites consumer concern about cruel farming practices, the environmental impact and the many health problems associated with meat as key factors in the growth of vegetarianism in New Zealand and internationally.
"Rather than try to frighten consumers into eating meat, perhaps these industries should be looking at what's wrong with the way they produce food," says Ms Soryl. "If these industries were really as concerned about health as they claim, they would be urging New Zealanders to reduce their animal protein intake."
Ms Soryl points to the many scientific papers published independently that show the significant health benefits of a vegetarian diet. "Though it's very nice of the meat industries to be concerned about the health of vegetarians," says Ms Soryl, "perhaps their concerns should be directed at the their own consumers whose risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes is increased by their meat based diets."
The Vegetarian Society plans to celebrate vegetarianism nationally next month on October 1st, which is International World Vegetarian Day.