Not long ago, a meal centred on meat was a rare treat. No longer. Most of us in the West now eat meat every day; many consume it at every meal. And people in less carnivorous cultures are getting a taste for it, too: in China it has become aspirational. Worldwide meat production has surged from 78 million tonnes per year in 1963 to 308 million tonnes in 2014.
The problem, setting aside issues around the morality of eating animals, is that the planet cannot support this growing appetite. Pasture used to graze livestock already accounts for 26 per cent of the planet’s ice-free landmass; the meat industry is responsible for 15 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.