Faux chicken, ham, shrimp, sausage and even mock duck — that look like the real thing — are being promoted as alternatives to help meat lovers to become vegetarians.
Tzu Chi, an international Buddhist organisation, is declaring January 11 as "Ethical Eating Day", and Kiwis are being encouraged to go meatless for a day.
Founding member and veganism advocate Peter Low said the range of mock meat that looks and tastes like real fish and meat increases the dining options and makes it easier for people to change their dining options.
"There is really no reason for any animal to be slaughtered or killed anymore," said Low, 66, owner of Epacs, a vegetarian centre and supermarket in East Tamaki.
Vegetarian chefs will tomorrow be at the centre tomorrow doing cooking demonstrations with Asian vegetarian ingredients.
Dishes on the menu will include vegetarian alternatives to Hainanese chicken rice, sweet sour pork and mutton curry.
"We want to break the stereotype of how vegetarian food should look and taste like, and show that they not only can look like real meat but also taste like the real thing," Low said.
"Our objective is to bring people back to what humans are meant to be eating, plant-based ingredients which are healthier and more sustainable."
The number of vegetarians and vegans — people who do not eat or use any byproducts of animals — are on the rise.
A Roy Morgan Research in 2015 found the number of New Zealanders eating an "all or almost all" vegetarian diet on 10.3 per cent, which was up from 8.1 per cent in 2011 and just 2 per cent in 2002.
The biggest growth is among men, which was up 63 per cent from 5.7 per cent to 9.3 per cent between 2011 and 2015.
The number of vegetarians are significant enough to support an increasing number of vegetarian restaurants and retailers.
Low has been a vegetarian for 28 years but became a vegan about eight months ago.
"I have never felt healthier, and at my age I am still doing lion dancing and working daily in my business," he said.
Personal trainer Trisha King, 28, a vegan and Asian food lover, says she is impressed at how closely vegan versions can taste like the real thing.
"My all time favourites are curry laksa and nasi lemak (coconut rice) and I still eat them regularly," said King, who stopped eating meat two years ago.
"No problem getting vegan versions these days."
King is a regular at the Water Drop Vegetarian Cafe at Fo Guang Shan Temple, which also serves a vegetarian option of fish and chips.
Tzu Chi's campaign for vegetarianism started in 2003, during the Sars outbreak in Asia.
Buddhist monk Hui Sheng Tian, of the NZ Dromdonba Buddhist Society, said going vegetarian also helps people become more compassionate.
"It is not just about our physical wellbeing but also inner peace," Hui said.
"It's got nothing to do with religion, but rather for the betterment of the human race and a better, more sustainable environment for our world."