A survey of top New Zealand chefs shows the demand for vegetarian dishes has quadrupled over the last five years.

The research, undertaken by vegetarian food producer Sanitarium and conducted by ACNielsen, was released today to mark World Vegetarian Day.

The research indicates that 17 per cent of people aged 15 years and older often eats, or only ever eats, meals without meat.

The head chef at MJ's Restaurant in Auckland, Michael James, says he has seen a marked increase in the number of vegetarian meal requests.

"Over the last five years vegetarian requests have tripled and to match that we have increased the vegetarian options available on our menu.

"I think people are chosing vegetables over meat as they see the vegetarian option as a health conscious move."

New Zealanders acknowledged that the vegetarian option can also be a tasty one with nearly half (46 per cent) of those surveyed by ACNielsen stating that meals without meat are not boring.

Chefs throughout the country were questioned regarding their changing menus, including Michael James of MJs in Auckland, Adrian Woodhouse of Braisserie Flip in Wellington, Jason Robinson of Annies Wine Bar in Christchurch and Michael Coughlin of Bell Pepper Blue Restaurant in Dunedin.