How a meat-free world could affect Kiwis, the agriculture sector

While some have declared 2019 the year of the vegan, red meat consumption in New Zealand is declining and the Government says farmers will have to adapt to the new challenges.

From printer to the pan in ten minutes - rice, peas and sea weed can make up a vegan steak.

Novameat Founder Giuseppe Scionti said it's all about creating new meat.

"A plant-based meat substitute, we are creating the first 3-D printed plant-based meat substitute", he said.

While going meat-free definitely has its perks, it also has some unknowns.

"They're more likely to have a smaller waist, less body fat, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol... less likely to get heart disease," said Dr Kathryn Bradbury, a researcher at Auckland University.

"Stroke is something we don't know about... [they're] less or more likely to get cancer," she said.

But there's no uncertainty about the direction of this trend and businesses are jumping on board, manufacturing meat alternatives with no meat in them. They've even been served as an inflight meal on our national carrier.

However, while red meat consumption in New Zealand is declining, it's growing in some huge international markets.

"We are exporting the vast majority of what we produce, so opportunities will be there to shift meat that might have been consumed domestically offshore to people who want to consume it," said Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

Scientists are giving all meat-eaters a grim ultimatum because veganism isn't just about the health of the human body, but also the planet.

One study found that a dietary change can deliver environmental benefits on a scale not achievable by producers.

That means cutting out meat and dairy from diets could reduce global farmland by more than 75 percent - an area equivalent to the United States, China, the European Union and Australia combined.

It is a staggering scenario that would be a win for environmentalists who argue livestock farming contributes to land and water degradation and causes 18 percent of human-produced greenhouse gases.

"That's been the challenge that they have faced. Over the years they have adapted to that, and I think they will continue to do that and they will find opportunities in new areas of production from their land," said Mr O'Connor.

New Zealand is economically invested in the production of meat. Last year, the country exported around $7 billion of red meat.

So cutting back how much we produce and how much Kiwis eat will not be easy, with most New Zealanders Newshub spoke to on the streets agreeing.

"You can imagine it, but I don't think it's going to happen," said one woman.

The future is on the mind of Kiwis, and for a growing number, that's a future without meat.