Circular food system approaches can support current European protein intake levels while reducing land use and greenhouse gas emissions

Wolfram Simon*, Renske Hijbeek, Anita Frehner, Renee Cardinaals, Elise Talsma, Hannah van Zanten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Protein transition and circular food system transition are two proposed strategies for supporting food system sustainability. Here we model animal-sourced protein to plant-sourced protein ratios within a European circular food system, finding that maintaining the current animal–plant protein share while redesigning the system with circular principles resulted in the largest relative reduction of 44% in land use and 70% in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared with the current food system. Shifting from a 60:40 to a 40:60 ratio of animal-sourced proteins to plant-sourced proteins yielded a 60% reduction in land use and an 81% GHG emission reduction, while supporting nutritionally adequate diets. Differences between current and recommended total protein intake did not substantially impact minimal land use and GHG emissions. Micronutrient inadequacies occurred with less than 18 g animal protein per capita per day. Redesigning the food system varied depending on whether land use or GHG emissions were reduced—highlighting the need for a food system approach when designing policies to enhance human and planetary health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-412
JournalNature Food
Volume5
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

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