Novel food products made from insects, seaweed or manufactured in a laboratory are gaining popularity, mainly because of their ecological value. According to a recent study, these new kinds of foods could reduce the environmental impact of eating by more than 80%, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, as well as water and land use.
According to research conducted by the University of Helsinki (Finland), adopting a diet based on these new "sustainable" foods could reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 83%, water use by 84% and land use by 87%.
Published in Nature Food , the research focused on the nutritional profile of some novel food products, such as seaweed or lab-cultured meat, while assessing water use, land use and potential carbon emissions. The study concludes that these food alternatives represent effective and complementary solutions to vegetarian or vegan diets to help reduce our food-related carbon footprint.
"With significant reductions in animal-sourced foods and substitutions with novel or future foods and plant-based protein alternatives, you can have significant reductions in environmental impacts in terms of global warming potential, land use and water use," said the study's lead author, Rachel Mazac of the University of Helsinki.
From plant-based cheese to seaweed and insects, the choice of sustainable foods, sometimes made in labs, is expanding at a pace. The EU is planning to promote seaweed (such as wakame, nori, spirulina) as a nutritional and ecological alternative, by means of a new digital stakeholder platform bringing together producers, consumers and researchers.
Alternatives to meat are also multiplying. Beyond cell-cultured meat, other avenues are now being explored, such as 3D-printed meat based on cereals or plants, including rice, pea proteins and algae.