'Good for the world and health,' says lab-grown meat and insects

Eating lab-grown meat or ground-up insects could result in significant reductions in carbon emissions and water usage, as well as more land for natural habitats.

A research evaluating the environmental advantages of "greener" items on our plates came to this conclusion.

According to scientists, such meals could reduce global pressures by more than 80% when compared to the usual European diet.

However, it is unclear whether customers will desire to change their dietary patterns.

A variety of non-traditional foods are being developed with the goal of delivering high-protein, low-water, and low-land diets that are friendly on the environment.

Finlandese researchers looked at the nutritional composition of several of these goods as well as three environmental pressure indicators: water usage, land use, and possible carbon emissions.

They claim that substituting alternative foods for meat, dairy, and other animal products might lessen these impacts by more than 80% while also providing a more complete spectrum of key nutrients than a completely vegetarian or vegan diet.

Algae growing in a Singapore lab

However, they discovered that relatively low-tech remedies, such as reducing meat consumption and increasing vegetable consumption, had a similar impact on the environment.

"You can have significant reductions in environmental impacts in terms of global warming potential, land use, and water use with significant reductions in animal-sourced foods and substitutions with novel or future foods and plant-based protein alternatives," said Rachel Mazac of the University of Helsinki.

She did say, though, that "similar savings in impacts can be found with a vegan diet." "You can have an approximately 75 percent reduction across all of your impacts" if you eat a diet with a 75 percent reduction in animal-sourced goods.

The study, which was published in the journal Nature Food, looked at new foods that are predicted to become more common in our diets in the next years, many of which rely on high-tech technologies to "grow" animal and plant cells in bioreactors.

The novel foods investigated - some of which are still under development - were:

  • Flies and crickets that have been ground up
  • Egg white from chicken cells generated in the lab
  • Kelp is a type of seaweed.
  • Mushroom or microbe-based protein powders
  • Algae that is edible
  • Cells produce milk, meat, and berries.

Kelp powder is used in a variety of supplements.

While the findings are "promising," Dr. Asaf Tzachor of the University of Cambridge, who was not part of the research team, believes that consumers' unwillingness to change their diets may "postpone, or indeed prevent, this much-needed transition."

Several studies have demonstrated that switching to a plant-based  diet  is  good  for  both  your  health  and the environment.

According to a recent assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a conversion to a balanced diet rich in plants such as grains and vegetables, with a moderate amount of sustainably produced meat and dairy, is suggested.

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