It was an impressive line-up of Kiwi vegetarians shortlisted for this year's hottest meat-free pair.

And to herald in World Vegetarian Day, animal welfare agency SAFE has announced the 2015 winners.

TV presenter and journalist Samantha Hayes and director James Cameron have been crowned New Zealand's hottest celebrity vegetarians, taking out the titles over the likes of musicians Benny Tipene and Gin Wigmore and presenter Suzanne Paul.

Cameron is said to have a deep respect for nature and, after filming Avatar in New Zealand, moved here and opened a vegan café in the Wairarapa.

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Following his conversion to veganism he said, "By changing what you eat, you will change the entire contract between the human species and the natural world."

Hayes has been a vegetarian since childhood and adds her recent win to a previous accolade as Auckland's sexiest woman.

World Vegetarian Day marks the beginning of a month-long campaign to encourage people worldwide to try a meat-free diet.

Last year's efforts saw over 500 people commit to Go Veg for a month, preventing an estimated 4,000 animals from being eaten.

SAFE's head of campaigns, Mandy Carter, says there has been a rise in the awareness of where peoples' meals come from and the cruelty involved in raising animals for food.

Take up the challenge

SAFE is urging people to take on the 30-day Go Veg challenge offering help and support with recipes, tips and information on how to live a healthy and compassionate life. Find out more here.