Proteins form the building blocks of life on earth. Both the quantity and quality of food are critical for the health of humans and animals. At the moment, a considerable portion of our protein is consumed through animal products. Wageningen University & Research is looking for ways to increase the availability and diversity of proteins from the perspectives of various disciplines: food science, agricultural and production technology and consumer behaviour.
Why is a protein transition necessary?
With the world’s growing population and increasing prosperity, the demand for and ability to afford animal proteins is increasing. The production of animal proteins takes up a lot of space, of which we are running out. Another issue is that the amount of animal protein we consume in the western world is often excessive and leads to obesity. That is why we need to move towards a more sustainable model of protein production and consumption.
What are the alternatives?
Sustainable and economically attractive alternatives to meat:
- plant-based proteins
- aquatic protein sources: seaweed, algae, duckweed
- other methods of food processing
- animal protein from circular systems
The Future of Proteins
Research steps protein transition
Wageningen University & Research is looking for ways to increase the availability of proteins from four research directions:
1. Technology routes to increased protein availability
- Improved crops
- Innovative aquatic production systems
- Biosynthesis and recombinant proteins
- Reduced food loss and waste
2. Production system redesigns
- Animals in a circular system
- New nitrogen cycles
- Production as part of the living environment
- Global entrepreneurship toward sustainable systems
3. Pillars of consumption shifts
- A diverse palette of options
- Consensus on a healthier aspiration
- Improved plant-based alternatives
- Attracting consumers to healthy & sustainable choices
4. Bad excuses for inaction
- We only need to work on demand; supply will follow
- We can change the whole system by adapting pricing
- We require quantitative, authoritative between-source comparisons and international databases to proceed
- We have time
Read more about our research:
Our solutions for:
- Efficient production of proteins
- Protein functionality
- Health effects of protein
- Meat substitutions and alternative protein sources
- Consumer motivation
- Climate-smart livestock farming
- Living lab on behavioural change
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- Chickpeas, crickets and chlorella: our future proteins, Pyett, Stacey e.a.
- Defining a land boundary for sustainable livestock consumption' by Hannah van Zanten
- Food Transitions 2030, WUR 2017
Towards a protein transition: taking a global perspectiveIn: Our future proteins / , Pyett, S., Jenkins, W., van Mierlo, B., Trindade, L.M., Welch, D., van Zanten, H.. - Amsterdam : VU University Press - ISBN 9789086598830 - p. 532 - 538.
No protein transition without societal acceptance: two reasons why the protein transition has not accelerated yetIn: Our future proteins / , Pyett, S., Jenkins, W., van Mierlo, B., Trindade, L.M., Welch, D., van Zanten, H.. - Amsterdam : VU University Press - ISBN 9789086598830 - p. 501 - 507.
Diversity in protein transition pathways: current status, key concerns and ways forwardIn: Our future proteins / , Pyett, S., Jenkins, W., van Mierlo, B., Trindade, L.M., Welch, D., van Zanten, H.. - Amsterdam : VU University Press - ISBN 9789086598830 - p. 488 - 495.
The role of animals in post-protein transition food systems: a design perspectiveIn: Our future proteins / , Pyett, S., Jenkins, W., van Mierlo, B., Trindade, L.M., Welch, D., van Zanten, H.. - Amsterdam : VU University Press - ISBN 9789086598830 - p. 335 - 342.
Social Norms Support the Protein Transition : The Relevance of Social Norms to Explain Increased Acceptance of Alternative Protein Burgers over 5 YearsFoods 11 (2022)21. - ISSN 2304-8158
Better informed decision making in consumers' food choice, breeders' crop design and protein transition : subproject 2 (parbars)Wageningen : Wageningen Plant Research - p.
WUR researchers examine tomato leaves, insects and fungi as “protein transition” optionsWUR researchers examine tomato leaves, insects and fungi as “protein transition” options, Global FoodMate, 2022-05-31, http://news.foodmate.com/202205/news_66015.html
The protein transition opportunities and challenges in analogues
The protein transition Opportunities and challenges in plant based food
5s4a: Protein transition pathways and regional innovation ecosystems: characteristics, challenges and promising directionsIn: Circular@WUR 2022. - : Wageningen University & Research - ISBN 9789464471625
Meat alternatives: An integrative comparison. Trends in Food Science and Technology
van der Weele, C., Feindt, P., Jan van der Goot, A., van Mierlo, B., & van Boekel, M. (2019). , 88, 505-512