It's not hard to find a meatless meal in New Zealand these days, and that's hardly surprising given new data that reveals Kiwis are lapping up the vegan lifestyle.

According to Chef's Pencil, Google trends data has revealed that in fact Kiwis now rank fifth in the world for veganism.

The UK is at the top of this list, followed by Australia, Israel and Austria - showing that veganism is growing in countries where diets are traditionally based on meat and dairy.

Now twice as popular with Kiwis as they were five years ago, vegan foods from meat-free burgers to plant-based milks have certainly made their mark here over the past few years.

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And although New Zealand ranked higher last year at third place, the drop to fifth place doesn't necessarily mean we're rushing back to the steaks and burgers. Israel and Austria may have taken over in the vegan popularity stakes, but veganism is still rising in New Zealand as more and more alternatives become available.

According to Chef's Pencil, meat-free eating in New Zealand jumped 15 per cent in 2019. While veganism is still very popular in Auckland and Christchurch, it's also on the rise in Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin.

Kiwi vegan restaurants and cafes are thriving as people become more and more aware of where their food comes from - even fast food chains like Burger King and Domino's are getting on board with the trend.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also contributed to the boom in veganism, with slaughterhouses and butcheries across the world affected and closed down due to the pandemic.

New research ranks New Zealand as the fifth most popular country in the world for veganism. Photo / Getty Images
New research ranks New Zealand as the fifth most popular country in the world for veganism. Photo / Getty Images

Fears over climate change and sustainability are also increasing reasons for going vegan, as research says we need to be eating more plant-based foods to be sustainable.

Vegan Society spokeswoman Claire Insley said it was "heartening" to see so many people becoming interested in veganism.

"Whether for their own health, because they care about animals or they are concerned about the planet. It is clear that reducing our consumption of animal products is good for us, good for the environment and really good for the animals."

Insley said if we want to ensure a sustainable world for the next few generations, turning plant-based is the way to go.

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"For too long we have overconsumed animal proteins to the detriment of the planet and now our children's future is in jeopardy."