Meat substitutes: Resource demands and environmental footprints

Research output: Journal contributionsScientific review articlesResearch


  • Sergiy Smetana
  • Dusan Ristic
  • Daniel Pleissner
  • Hanna L. Tuomisto
  • Oleksii Parniakov
  • Volker Heinz

The modern food system is characterized with high environmental impact, which is in many cases associated with increased rates of animal production and overconsumption. The adoption of alternatives to meat proteins (insects, plants, mycoprotein, microalgae, cultured meat, etc.) might potentially influence the environmental impact and human health in a positive or negative way but could also trigger indirect impacts with higher consumption rates. Current review provides a condensed analysis on potential environmental impacts, resource consumption rates and unintended trade-offs associated with integration of alternative proteins in complex global food system in the form of meat substitutes. We focus on emissions of greenhouse gases, land use, non-renewable energy use and water footprint highlighted for both ingredients used for meat substitutes and ready products. The benefits and limitations of meat substitution are highlighted in relation to a weight and protein content. The analysis of the recent research literature allowed us to define issues, that require the attention of future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106831
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01.03.2023

Bibliographical note

The study is partially supported by the funding from the European Union...s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 861976 proejct SUSINCHAIN. This document reflects only the authors... views and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains. It is also partially funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), in the frame of FACCE-SURPLUS/FACCE-JPI project UpWaste, grant numbers 031B0934 and Era-Net Cofund FOSC-ERA PRogram (Project Climaqua 2821ERA12).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)

    Research areas

  • Alternative protein sources, Environmental impact, LCA, Life cycle assessment, Meat alternatives, Meat substitutes
  • Biology