Number of New Zealanders going vegetarian surges

The number of New Zealanders who have made the switch to vegetarianism has surged in the past year.

A recent survey by Colmar Brunton shows 15 percent of Kiwis aged 18 and over always or mostly eat plant-based meals - an increase of 50 percent in the last year.

The increase is celebrated by the New Zealand Vegetarian Society.

"This is great news!" said spokesperson Phillip McKibbin on Tuesday. 

"It shows that more of us now recognise that what we eat has consequences not only for our health, but for other animals and the natural environment as well."

McKibbin says he's not surprised at the results.

"Given how harmful meat is for both animals and the environment it isn't at all surprising that more of us are choosing to avoid it," he said on Tuesday.

The research shows 49 percent of Kiwis agree they need to change their diet to save the environment - suggesting the numbers of people going vegetarian could once again increase.

In general, Kiwis are worried about climate change, sustainability and waste with almost half saying they want the Government to lead the way on climate change.

Of those, 76 percent agree environmental policies influence their vote.