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Comparative life cycle assessment of plant and beef-based patties, including carbon opportunity costs

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dc.contributor.author Saget, Sophie
dc.contributor.author Costa, Marcela Porto
dc.contributor.author Santos, Carla Sancho
dc.contributor.author Vasconcelos, Marta
dc.contributor.author Styles, David
dc.contributor.author Williams, Michael
dc.date.accessioned 2021-08-13T10:01:01Z
dc.date.available 2021-08-13T10:01:01Z
dc.date.issued 2021
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10344/10473
dc.description peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description.abstract Legume-derived foods have been shown to have comparatively low greenhouse gas (GHG) intensities whilst providing high amounts of nutrients. However, processing legumes into meat analogues can incur significant energy costs. Here, we undertake a comprehensive life cycle assessment of plant-based and (Brazilian and Irish) beef burger patties. Sixteen impact categories are supplemented with the carbon opportunity cost of land occupation, and benchmarked against nutrient density units (NDU) to provide holistic evidence on the potential contribution of plant-based patties to environmentally-sustainable nutritional density. Plant-based patties have a smaller environmental footprint across most categories, including a 77% smaller climate change burden, but incur 8% more energy use compared with Brazilian beef patties. Normalised scores (person equivalents) were significantly larger (p < 0.05) for the beef products across key categories including land use, acidification, and marine and terrestrial eutrophication. Sensitivity analyses indicated significant variance across impact categories if beef cattle are reared in South Africa, France or the United States, including a 16-fold difference in land occupation. Biophysical allocation of co-products reduced environmental burdens of beef burgers. However, owing to a 68% higher NDU per serving, reflecting higher fibre and essential fatty acid content, plant-based patties are associated with 81–87% less climate change and 92–95% less marine eutrophication per NDU compared with beef burger patties. Accounting for carbon opportunity cost of land further increased the climate change advantage of plant-based patties by 25–44%. A simple extrapolation indicates that switching from beef to vegetable patties in the UK could save between 9.5 and 11 million tonnes CO2e annually, representing up to 2.4% of territorial GHG emissions. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Elsevier en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries Sustainable Production and Consumption;28, pp. 936–952
dc.subject Plant protein en_US
dc.subject Meat analogues en_US
dc.subject Nutrient density unit en_US
dc.title Comparative life cycle assessment of plant and beef-based patties, including carbon opportunity costs en_US
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/article en_US
dc.type.supercollection all_ul_research en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_published_reviewed en_US
dc.contributor.sponsor Horizon 2020 en_US
dc.contributor.sponsor ERC
dc.relation.projectid 727973 en_US
dc.rights.accessrights info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess en_US


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