Focus on the Future: Meat of the future
Trend report for assessing the environmental impacts of plant-based meat substitutes, edible insects and in vitro meat
Jetzke, Tobias et. al. 2022: Focus on the future: Meat of the future: Trend report for assessing the environmental impacts of plant-based meat substitutes, edible insects and in vitro meat. Dessau-Roßlau: German Environment Agency.
In July 2020, the Federal Environment Agency published the trend report "Meat of the Future", which analyzes the environmental impacts of plant-based meat substitutes, edible insects and in-vitro meat. Ecologic Institute developed policy options on how the market development of meat alternatives can be better aligned with the goal of sustainability.
Huge reductions in meat-eating in western societies are essential to avoid dangerous climate change and to ensure food safety for a growing world population. In Germany, meat substitutes are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative for meat. In the study "Meat of the Future" for the German Federal Environment Agency, the effects of three emerging meat alternatives – vegetable meat substitutes, edible insects and in-vitro meat – have now been investigated with regard to impacts on health and environment.
Results of the study show that plant based meat substitutes have the best environmental footprint. Compared to beef, they lead to 90% less greenhouse gas emissions and need much less water and land. Insect-based meat substitutes are slightly less effective. The environmental and health effects of in-vitro meat have been particularly difficult to assess to date due to a lack of data. Here, the question of the cell growth medium to be used in the future will be decisive.
Therefore, the promotion of a more plant-based nutrition should be the focus of political action, especially if these products have a low degree of processing.
The English translation of the report [pdf, 8.8 MB, German] is available since 2022.