This report critically examines eight key claims about the sustainability of protein sources for human diets. In it, authors use a political ecology lens to deconstruct:
- four claims about the problems that protein-source foods present (e.g., “Eating red meat is bad for your health”); and
- four claims about the proposed solutions to those problems (e.g., “Alternative proteins are a win-win-win for animals, people and the planet”).
In doing so, the authors highlight significant power imbalances in who is controlling these messages, and at the same time the industry behind the solutions.
They also highlight how dangerous oversimplification of the problems has led to dangerously oversimplified solutions that do not address the root causes.
Finally, they recommend three approaches for how to move beyond misleading and oversimplified claims to support meaningful change in sustainable protein-source foods.
- Shift the focus from ‘protein transition’ to sustainable food system transition and sustainable food policies
- Prioritize reform pathways that deliver on all aspects of sustainability, starting at the territorial level (measure what matters, where it matters)
- Reclaim public resources from ‘big protein’, realign innovation pathways with the public good, and reset the debate
IPES-Food, 2022. The politics of protein: examining claims about livestock, fish, ‘alternative proteins’ and sustainability.
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