Environmental and nutritional Life Cycle Assessment of novel foods in meals as transformative food for the future
Published in: Science of The Total Environment
Volumen: 876 (2023) | Pages: 13 | Year of Publication: 2021 | License: CC BY 4.0
Paper Access: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.162796
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.
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.
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.