Is 2019 the 'Year of the Vegan'?

It's no longer the token dish on the menu; veganism is a trend that's rapidly becoming mainstream. 

More than 74 million photos on Instagram are tagged with the hashtag vegan, and 'vegan recipes' was New Zealand's number one recipe search last year. 

The raw-food diet comes with the seal of approval of some of the world's top influencers. 

Venus Williams credits a raw food diet as a way to stay at the top of her game, Ariana Grande chose the lifestyle because of animal-rights reasons, and the Duchess of Sussex hints she eats vegan too, meaning it's a diet fit for royalty.  

Pop star Beyonce and her husband Jay Z have offered free tickets to fans who pledge to eat vegan. 

And as diets change and menus adapt, Forbes magazine declared 2019 the 'Year of the Vegan'. 

It's reflected in some of the crazier food choices availbale in the US, including a 'hummus shake' and an oat milk 'soft serve'. 

In Europe, fast food giant McDonald's is trialling a McVegan to see if it has any McFans. 

Meanwhile New Zealand hasn't come in as hot as other countries, but it is still embracing the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle.

Of 2300 Kiwi restaurants surveyed, more than a third said this year they're adapting their menus to make vegan and vegetarian dishes more mainstream. 

"We're definitely more mindful," says Tom Hishon, head chef of Ponsonby restaurant Orphans Kitchen.

He says it's "quite easy" to adapt and change meat-based dishes to become more "vegetarian friendly". 

The Restaurant Association of New Zealand says it's unlikely there will be a surge in vegan or vegetarian exclusive eateries opening, but rather an increase of options will become available on mainstream menus. 

"It's pretty easy to put a steak out and add some vegetables to it, but vegetarian and vegan dishes are a bit more complicated, a bit more of a challenge," said Mike Egan, RA president. 

In November last year, New Zealand held its first ever vegan pie awards.