Current production and consumption of animal-sourced foods are increasingly shown to be unsustainable. Environmental, animal welfare, socio-economic and health concerns are being raised in scientific literature, public campaigns, and the media. These concerns are growing alongside a fast-moving high-protein food market, led by some of the largest meat companies progressively shifting their investments towards the production & marketing of alternative high-protein foods (i.e. lab-grown meat, impossible burger, quorn, inter alia ). However, the full impact of shifts in the protein mix - from energy requirements to land use changes, from food security implications to working conditions - are yet to be clearly established, while regional specificities are often overlooked.
After setting the hard boundaries of the protein debate, including health, nutrition, and food security requirements, the report will make the case for adopting a holisticfood system approach to understand the impacts of high-protein foods. The report will then seek to decode the “protein narrative” and understand the political economy of current production-consumption trends for high-protein foods.
The report will bring together different strands of the protein debate and address contested claims around alternative proteins (i.e. sustainability and health assessments). It will highlight the importance of accounting for regional differences (addressing different impacts, trends and pathways for change) and different production models. The report will further seek to provide a framework for understanding and debating these challenges between a wide-range of stakeholders in order to build common ground and design recommendations that embrace the complexity of the protein question. Reflection is urgently required to clarify the impacts of current and emerging trends, and to map out a pathway towards sustainable food systems.