We think so, as we struggle to feed our overpopulating society there very well may be a huge growth on plant-based proteins for many reasons. Global agriculture faces the prospect of a changing climate and the challenge of feeding the world’s population that is growing annually at about 1.3%. By 2063, the population is expected to double from about 6.5 billion today to 13 billion. Ensuring enough protein is available to feed our world’s population is crucial as protein is one of only three macronutrients in our diet: protein, carbohydrate, and fat. As crucial as protein is, maintaining our world’s current protein production levels will further deplete our land, water, and fossil fuel resources. We clearly need to invest in research and infrastructure solutions that will provide protein to regions vulnerable to food deficits.
Meat protein production demands significant amounts of our global supply of energy and natural resources.
Plant protein production, on the other hand, offers a lower environmental impact and a sustainable solution by reducing energy consumption, emissions, land usage, and water consumption. Producers must feed plant protein to animals to produce animal proteins, and animals are not efficient converters, pound for pound, of the proteins they consume. The average conversion ratio of vegetable to animal protein is 10 to 1, which means that it takes about 10 pounds of feed protein to produce 1 pounds of animal protein.
Our growing global population needs affordable protein. We’ll be serving protein to about 9 billion people by 2050, according to global population forecasts. Access to inexpensive plant proteins is crucial in serving this rising global population without adding undue stress to our environment.
Several trends are fueling the growth of the plant protein ingredients market. Food manufacturers are responding to the demand from health-conscious Baby Boomers and growing numbers of consumers who prefer meat-free, high-protein foods. High and volatile animal protein prices have put cost pressures on global food manufacturers who are finding innovative ways to utilize inexpensive plant proteins as replacements or partial-replacement for expensive animal proteins. Lastly is the trend towards sustainability in sourcing of foods.
Production of animal proteins is viewed as less “environmentally economic” when compared to the production of plant proteins. The growing awareness of the large amount of greenhouse gases generated globally through livestock production is recognized by both consumers and food manufacturers alike. Plant protein production, on the other hand, offers a lower environmental impact and a sustainable solution by reducing energy consumption, emissions, land usage, and water consumption, and also offers better input conversion efficiency.
Plant Protein Production vs Animal Protein Production
|Energy Consumption||6-20 times less fossil fuel input¹|
|Emissions||Livestock accounts for 40% more emissions than does Transport²|
|Land Use||17 times less land¹|
|Water Consumption||100 times less water³|
|Protein Conversion Efficiency||10 times more efficient¹|
So there you have it; plant-based proteins are gaining popularity from the recognition that they offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to animal derived proteins.
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Referenced http://www.burcon.ca/sustainability/eco-efficiency.php Also partial blog referenced: http://www.ift.org/food-technology/past-issues/2010/november/columns/perspective.aspx
Picture credit: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/sustainable-animal-products-an-oxymoron/