On the merits of plant-based proteins for global food security: Marrying macro and micro perspectives
This paper aims to demonstrate the importance of protein production for the global environment and to give insight into the way consumers frame the protein part of their meal. Using a macro perspective, it presents a review of the literature on current and future impacts of the nutritional transition that has made animals the chief source of protein in many countries. Protein-related environmental pressure is put into the perspective of a number of vital Earth-system processes whose boundaries have already been overstepped or are under threat of transgression. To inform policy-makers about these linkages a long-term global food security frame is proposed. Using a micro perspective, survey data on consumers reveal that their frames and habits are strongly adapted to the current meat system. Although this system has induced some pickiness about meat as well as uneasiness about meat's animal origin, there is a large psychological distance between consumers and experts in their view of protein sources. It is suggested that a global food security frame may help to bridge this distance by creating overlapping frames, capturing both altruistic aspects and a reasonable measure of self-interest. This may enable a novel protein transition, featuring a greater share of plant-based protein.
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