Environmental and nutritional Life Cycle Assessment of novel foods in meals as transformative food for the future

Volumen:  876 (2023)   |  Pages:  13   |  Year of Publication:  2021  | License:  CC BY 4.0

What is the objective?

The goal of the paper was to compare the nutritional footprint of meals including novel/future foods with those of vegan and omnivore meals.

Our Short Summary.

The authors employed a nutritional LCA (nLCA) considering nutrient and environmental factors of novel foods in meals. They established a ‘cradle to consumer’ system boundary, utilized the AGRIBALYSE 3.1 LCA Database, and applied the ReCiPe 2016 Midpoint and AWARE as methods to calculate environmental impacts. As a result, microalgae, mycoprotein, fish, and beef, had moderate nutritional footprint effect levels. The study suggests the need for further research to comprehensively understand the cultural, ethical, and economic implications of novel food formulations.

Why you should read it!

This article is aimed at decision-makers, practitioners and researchers interested in developing methodologies for the transformation of the food of the future, where not only environmental but also nutritional, cultural, ethical and economic aspects are considered.

Original Abstract

Sustainable diets are key for mitigating further anthropogenic climate change and meeting future health and sustainability goals globally. Given that current diets need to change significantly, novel/future foods (e.g., insect meal, cultured meat, microalgae, mycoprotein) present options for protein alternatives in future diets with lower total environmental impacts than animal source foods. Comparisons at the more concrete meal level would help consumers better understand the scale of environmental impacts of single meals and substitutability of animal sourced foods with novel foods. Our aim was to compare the environmental impacts of meals including novel/future foods with those of vegan and omnivore meals. We compiled a database on environmental impacts and nutrient composition of novel/future foods and modeled the impacts of calorically similar meals. Additionally, we applied two nutritional Life Cycle Assessment (nLCA) methods to compare the meals in terms of nutritional content and environmental impacts in one index. All meals with novel/future foods had up to 88 % less Global Warming Potential, 83 % less land use, 87 % less scarcity-weighted water use, 95 % less freshwater eutrophication, 78 % less marine eutrophication, and 92 % less terrestrial acidification impacts than similar meals with animal source foods, while still offering the same nutritional value as vegan and omnivore meals. The nLCA indices of most novel/future food meals are similar to protein-rich plant-based alternative meals and show fewer environmental impacts in terms of nutrient richness than most animal source meals. Substituting animal source foods with certain novel/future foods may provide for nutritious meals with substantial environmental benefits for sustainably transforming future food systems.


Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

©2024 Forum for Sustainability through Life Cycle Innovation e.V. | Contact Us | Legal Info


If you would like to get in touch with us, please feel free to send us a message. Thank you very much in advance.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Join our newsletter and stay up-to-date on everything happening in the life cycle community! We'll send you 3-4 newsletters per year
Subscribe Now!

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account