A meat free society : The different substitutes for meat, their future and their environmental and health impact compared to meat

University essay from KTH/Industriell ekologi; KTH/Industriell ekologi

Abstract: The worldwide consumption of meat continues to increase and in Sweden the annual consumption has gone from 24 kg/person in 1990 to about 78 kg/person in 2005. This contributes to large environmental impacts such as an increase of greenhouse gas emissions, unsustainable land and resource use and shortage of water. A solution to the problem is to change our diets to be more sustainable. The purpose with this research is therefore to study the positive environmental and health aspects of alternative protein rich products based on soya, grown meat, algae and insects in comparison with meat. The goal is then to compare the environmental impacts from these products by studying different LCA-studies. Furthermore, also to understand how the future will be developed by interviewing producers of meat substitutes in Sweden. Some difficulties of comparing different LCA-studies are the choice of system boundaries, functional units and environmental aspects in the studies. Nevertheless, after studying a large amount of reports and articles about the products conclusions could yet be drawn. The carbonfootprint from beef is up to 20 times larger than from the substitutes and the land use is up to 125 times larger for beef compared to substitutes. Pork and chicken have lower impact but the lowest impact seems to come from producing substitutes based on soya beans. Insects and algae also have a low impact, but the products are still in the stage of development in Sweden due to laws, regulations and lack of knowledge. Regarding the health aspects substitutes could possibly replace meat since both insects and soya are rich of protein. Insects are also rich oniron and other nutrition. Algae consist as well of good nutrition. The companies interviewed in this study were Kung Markatta, Ekko gourmet and Veggi. They had some different opinions on future products, but they could all agree on that we need to eat less meat and more substitutes. The conclusions of this research are that the environmental aspects considered in the analysed LCA-studies are mostly carbon footprint and land use. They show that beef have a larger environmental impact than meat substitutes. It is however recommended to do new studies on products with the same system boundaries and functional units to get a more accurate and comparable result.

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