Protein Transition: New publication in Nature Food !



A series of reports have highlighted the environmental challenges associated with animal production, calling for sustainable transformations in agriculture and dietary choices. From Meadows' famous 1972 warning about unsustainable population growth and pollution to the more recent FAO report, "Livestock’s Long Shadow," emphasizing the adverse impacts of livestock farming, the need for food reform is increasingly evident.

Towards a Protein Transition:

In response to these concerns, many scientists advocate for a transition in dietary patterns, promoting the reduction of animal proteins in favor of alternative sources such as legumes, algae, insects, or even cellular meat. This transition, subject to growing research, extends beyond the scientific realm, encompassing debates at the European, national, regional, and even daily consumer levels.

Analysis of Literature and Emerging Narratives:

In a recently published article by Océane Duluins and Philippe Baret (ELI – ELIA) in Nature Food, a systematic review of 33 articles was conducted to understand the definition and consensus surrounding the protein transition. Three distinct narratives emerged, highlighting consumer dietary changes, technological advancements for more sustainable protein production systems, and a socio-technological narrative imagining a radical shift towards plant-based alternatives.

Challenges to Overcome:

The article emphasizes the lack of clear definitions of the protein transition, as well as differences of opinion on reducing or replacing proteins in diets. A notable gap concerns the need for more consideration of the necessary systematic change, often limited to the nutritional function of proteins. Crucial elements such as the diversity of animals' roles in food systems and the complexity of dietary habits are overlooked.


The debate on the protein transition is complex, affecting various levels of society. It is imperative to adopt a holistic approach, considering environmental, social, and technological dimensions to build sustainable solutions. The article underscores the need for a more in-depth and inclusive discussion to shape an environmentally friendly food future that meets the planet's needs.

Read the full paper published in Open Access in Nature Food:

Céline Chevalier, a member of the Sytra team, produced the infographic

Funding :

The open-access publication of this article was supported by the Claire Agricultures nouvelles Fonds Baillet Latour

Published on January 12, 2024