Could consumption of insects, cultured meat or imitation meat reduce global agricultural land use?

P Alexander, C Brown, A Arneth, C Dias, J Finnigan, D Moran, MDA Rounsevell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Animal products, i.e. meat, milk and eggs, provide an important component in global diets, but livestock dominate agricultural land use by area and are a major source of greenhouse gases. Cultural and personal associations with animal product consumption create barriers to moderating consumption, and hence reduced environmental impacts. Here we review alternatives to conventional animal products, including cultured meat, imitation meat and insects (i.e. entomophagy), and explore the potential change in global agricultural land requirements associated with each alternative. Stylised transformative consumption scenarios where half of current conventional animal products are substituted to provide at least equal protein and calories are considered. The analysis also considers and compares the agricultural land area given shifts between conventional animal product consumption. The results suggest that imitation meat and insects have the highest land use efficiency, but the land use requirements are only slightly greater for eggs and poultry meat. The efficiency of insects and their ability to convert agricultural by-products and food waste into food, suggests further research into insect production is warranted. Cultured meat does not appear to offer substantial benefits over poultry meat or eggs, with similar conversion efficiency, but higher direct energy requirements. Comparison with the land use savings from reduced consumer waste, including over-consumption, suggests greater benefits could be achieved from alternative dietary transformations considered. We conclude that although a diet with lower rates of animal product consumption is likely to create the greatest reduction in agricultural land, a mix of smaller changes in consumer behaviour, such as replacing beef with chicken, reducing food waste and potentially introducing insects more commonly into diets, would also achieve land savings and a more sustainable food system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22 - 32
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Food Security
Volume15
Early online date22 Apr 2017
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 22 Apr 2017

Fingerprint

animal products
agricultural land
land use
meat
insects
food waste
poultry meat
diet
consumer behavior
greenhouse gases
global change
energy requirements
byproducts
environmental impact
beef
livestock
chickens
milk
proteins

Bibliographical note

1030978
1030590
1031405

Keywords

  • Animal products
  • Cultured meat
  • Dietary change
  • Entomophagy
  • Land use
  • Livestock

Cite this

Alexander, P., Brown, C., Arneth, A., Dias, C., Finnigan, J., Moran, D., & Rounsevell, MDA. (2017). Could consumption of insects, cultured meat or imitation meat reduce global agricultural land use? Global Food Security, 15, 22 - 32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2017.04.001
Alexander, P ; Brown, C ; Arneth, A ; Dias, C ; Finnigan, J ; Moran, D ; Rounsevell, MDA. / Could consumption of insects, cultured meat or imitation meat reduce global agricultural land use?. In: Global Food Security. 2017 ; Vol. 15. pp. 22 - 32.
@article{fbfe6c29808b44c5824cbfd549442016,
title = "Could consumption of insects, cultured meat or imitation meat reduce global agricultural land use?",
abstract = "Animal products, i.e. meat, milk and eggs, provide an important component in global diets, but livestock dominate agricultural land use by area and are a major source of greenhouse gases. Cultural and personal associations with animal product consumption create barriers to moderating consumption, and hence reduced environmental impacts. Here we review alternatives to conventional animal products, including cultured meat, imitation meat and insects (i.e. entomophagy), and explore the potential change in global agricultural land requirements associated with each alternative. Stylised transformative consumption scenarios where half of current conventional animal products are substituted to provide at least equal protein and calories are considered. The analysis also considers and compares the agricultural land area given shifts between conventional animal product consumption. The results suggest that imitation meat and insects have the highest land use efficiency, but the land use requirements are only slightly greater for eggs and poultry meat. The efficiency of insects and their ability to convert agricultural by-products and food waste into food, suggests further research into insect production is warranted. Cultured meat does not appear to offer substantial benefits over poultry meat or eggs, with similar conversion efficiency, but higher direct energy requirements. Comparison with the land use savings from reduced consumer waste, including over-consumption, suggests greater benefits could be achieved from alternative dietary transformations considered. We conclude that although a diet with lower rates of animal product consumption is likely to create the greatest reduction in agricultural land, a mix of smaller changes in consumer behaviour, such as replacing beef with chicken, reducing food waste and potentially introducing insects more commonly into diets, would also achieve land savings and a more sustainable food system.",
keywords = "Animal products, Cultured meat, Dietary change, Entomophagy, Land use, Livestock",
author = "P Alexander and C Brown and A Arneth and C Dias and J Finnigan and D Moran and MDA Rounsevell",
note = "1030978 1030590 1031405",
year = "2017",
month = "4",
day = "22",
doi = "10.1016/j.gfs.2017.04.001",
language = "English",
volume = "15",
pages = "22 -- 32",
journal = "Global Food Security",
issn = "2211-9124",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

Alexander, P, Brown, C, Arneth, A, Dias, C, Finnigan, J, Moran, D & Rounsevell, MDA 2017, 'Could consumption of insects, cultured meat or imitation meat reduce global agricultural land use?', Global Food Security, vol. 15, pp. 22 - 32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2017.04.001

Could consumption of insects, cultured meat or imitation meat reduce global agricultural land use? / Alexander, P; Brown, C; Arneth, A; Dias, C; Finnigan, J; Moran, D; Rounsevell, MDA.

In: Global Food Security, Vol. 15, 22.04.2017, p. 22 - 32.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Could consumption of insects, cultured meat or imitation meat reduce global agricultural land use?

AU - Alexander, P

AU - Brown, C

AU - Arneth, A

AU - Dias, C

AU - Finnigan, J

AU - Moran, D

AU - Rounsevell, MDA

N1 - 1030978 1030590 1031405

PY - 2017/4/22

Y1 - 2017/4/22

N2 - Animal products, i.e. meat, milk and eggs, provide an important component in global diets, but livestock dominate agricultural land use by area and are a major source of greenhouse gases. Cultural and personal associations with animal product consumption create barriers to moderating consumption, and hence reduced environmental impacts. Here we review alternatives to conventional animal products, including cultured meat, imitation meat and insects (i.e. entomophagy), and explore the potential change in global agricultural land requirements associated with each alternative. Stylised transformative consumption scenarios where half of current conventional animal products are substituted to provide at least equal protein and calories are considered. The analysis also considers and compares the agricultural land area given shifts between conventional animal product consumption. The results suggest that imitation meat and insects have the highest land use efficiency, but the land use requirements are only slightly greater for eggs and poultry meat. The efficiency of insects and their ability to convert agricultural by-products and food waste into food, suggests further research into insect production is warranted. Cultured meat does not appear to offer substantial benefits over poultry meat or eggs, with similar conversion efficiency, but higher direct energy requirements. Comparison with the land use savings from reduced consumer waste, including over-consumption, suggests greater benefits could be achieved from alternative dietary transformations considered. We conclude that although a diet with lower rates of animal product consumption is likely to create the greatest reduction in agricultural land, a mix of smaller changes in consumer behaviour, such as replacing beef with chicken, reducing food waste and potentially introducing insects more commonly into diets, would also achieve land savings and a more sustainable food system.

AB - Animal products, i.e. meat, milk and eggs, provide an important component in global diets, but livestock dominate agricultural land use by area and are a major source of greenhouse gases. Cultural and personal associations with animal product consumption create barriers to moderating consumption, and hence reduced environmental impacts. Here we review alternatives to conventional animal products, including cultured meat, imitation meat and insects (i.e. entomophagy), and explore the potential change in global agricultural land requirements associated with each alternative. Stylised transformative consumption scenarios where half of current conventional animal products are substituted to provide at least equal protein and calories are considered. The analysis also considers and compares the agricultural land area given shifts between conventional animal product consumption. The results suggest that imitation meat and insects have the highest land use efficiency, but the land use requirements are only slightly greater for eggs and poultry meat. The efficiency of insects and their ability to convert agricultural by-products and food waste into food, suggests further research into insect production is warranted. Cultured meat does not appear to offer substantial benefits over poultry meat or eggs, with similar conversion efficiency, but higher direct energy requirements. Comparison with the land use savings from reduced consumer waste, including over-consumption, suggests greater benefits could be achieved from alternative dietary transformations considered. We conclude that although a diet with lower rates of animal product consumption is likely to create the greatest reduction in agricultural land, a mix of smaller changes in consumer behaviour, such as replacing beef with chicken, reducing food waste and potentially introducing insects more commonly into diets, would also achieve land savings and a more sustainable food system.

KW - Animal products

KW - Cultured meat

KW - Dietary change

KW - Entomophagy

KW - Land use

KW - Livestock

U2 - 10.1016/j.gfs.2017.04.001

DO - 10.1016/j.gfs.2017.04.001

M3 - Article

VL - 15

SP - 22

EP - 32

JO - Global Food Security

JF - Global Food Security

SN - 2211-9124

ER -