With more Kiwis choosing a plant-based or plant-forward diet, a new report has answered some of the key questions surrounding the possible future of a plant-based New Zealand.

The Green Protein Report by the Vegan Society Aotearoa New Zealand explores in detail how a plant-based future can be achieved, how much profit there is to be made from fruit and vegetables and how much healthier Kiwi citizens would be.

“Currently our arable land is not fully utilised, we could increase our cropping and horticultural land by up to ten times what it now is, without land loss to animal-based farms,” claimed the society in a statement.

“For too long animal agriculture has dominated our landscape, and it has resulted in mass deforestation and mass leaching of nitrates into our rivers. We have one of the highest methane emissions per capita, our soils are being eroded, our native wildlife has been decimated, and we are losing our clean and green image even further in the eyes of the world.”

The report wishes to shed light on how to meet New Zealand’s climate change targets by 2030 through reduced reliance on animal agriculture.

“We are pleased to publish this report, which clearly shows the potential for New Zealand to compete on the global stage in the production of plant based food sources,” wrote the society in an introduction to the report. “The planet can no longer sustain a food system dependent on animal agriculture. We can, and must, apply our efforts to a successful transition to horticulturally-based food production.”

According to the report in 2011, Google searches for the word vegan became more popular than searches for the word vegetarian, a trend which continues around the world to this day. Campaigns and education initiatives by non-profits, celebrities leading by example, more favourable articles in the news, and increasing scientific evidence that plant-strong diets are better for health and the environment, have influenced public opinion in favour of reducing meat consumption.

This increased public favour for less meat could change the landscape of New Zealand agriculture and horticulture significantly over the coming years.

“New Zealand is among the highest methane emitters per capita in the world, which can only be sufficiently limited by reducing the reliance on animal agriculture,” the report concluded. “Research into plant-based crops and products, land use, knowledge exchange and sector development, is key to the success of the new economy, as is funding to support this transition.”

You can read and download a PDF copy of the report here.