A report released earlier this month predicted that 60% of the meat products we consume in 2040 will either be plant-based or cultured alternatives.

Butchers are closing down or shrinking in half – with cafés moving in – as plant-based meats increase market share.

It is a sign of the times: fewer people are eating meat and poultry.

In the US, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are seeing their plant-based meats in almost 20,000 restaurants across the country. White Castle began selling the Impossible Slider, a burger made from plant-based (soy) protein created by Impossible Foods. In May, Little Caesars announced a new pizza topped with plant-based sausage from Impossible Foods. Hooters’ parent company recently signed a deal with Beyond Meat. Burger King in March launched the Impossible Whopper with a plant-based patty from Impossible Foods.

Barclays estimates the alternative meat industry is now a US$140 billion industry and Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are looking to expand into Europe as the dietary trend gathers pace globally.

During the UK’s Meat Free Week last week, supermarket giant Sainbury’s opened up a Meat Free Butchers in London for three days, complete with strings of (veggie) sausages hanging in the window after it reported a 65 per cent increase in sales of plant-based products year-on-year. Sainsbury’s says it has more than 100 plant-based products on its shelves.

Queue outside Meat Free Butcher. Photo: Twitter

In the UK, consumer goods giant Unilever has bought meat-substitute company The Vegetarian Butcher and the UK’s first 100 per cent vegan hotel has opened in Scotland.

In Australia, plant-based burgers are becoming more readily available and restaurants have signed exclusive agreements with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Beyond Meat is available in Coles Supermarket. A Roy Morgan study in 2016 found that between 2012 and 2016 the number of Australian adults whose diet is all or almost all vegetarian has risen from 1.7 million people (or 9.7 per cent of the population) to almost 2.1 million (11.2 per cent).

A report released earlier this month by global consultancy firm AT Kearney, based on interviews with industry experts, predicted that 60 per cent of the meat products we consume in 2040 will either be plant-based replacements or cultured alternatives grown in vats.

“The large-scale livestock industry is viewed by many as an unnecessary evil,” the report stated. “With the advantages of novel vegan meat replacements and cultured meat over conventionally produced meat, it is only a matter of time before they capture a substantial market share.”