Famous Turkish author Orhan Pamuk wrote in his book New Life, “I read a book and my whole life was changed” (1). For the latest report released by the IPCC today, I think we should all use this sentence as follows. “I read a report and my view of the climate has changed”. The latest IPCC report is a wake-up call for immediate climate action.
IPCC is the most authoritative body on climate science the sixth assessment report was published in August 2021. In the current state of the climate section, the report underlines that; “Human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere have occurred” (2). So we are responsible for the climate crisis the good news is we also have the solutions. We need rapid decarbonization of all sectors to achieve the 1.5 ℃ target set in the Paris Agreement. The food sector also needs a novel approach to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Food Sector and Its Challenges
The world population is expected to reach 9,8 billion people in 2050. The big question is how to offer a sustainable, healthy diet within planetary boundaries to this growing population. Today our food system can not meet the international targets for food waste, hunger, obesity, land protection, and healthy diets. The rising population and climate change put even more pressure on food systems. Our food system from farm to fork is responsible for around 25% of total GHG emissions. Statistics show how big is the problem with the food we produce and consume; According to FAO, between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020. World Health Organization mentions that in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight of these over 650 million were obese. Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted.
Our food system from farm to fork is responsible for around 25% of total GHG emissions.
How Does Food Sector Contribute to Climate Change?
We know that climate change has negatively affected yields in most regions where food is cultivated. Climate change can disrupt food production, but food production is also a major cause of climate change. We know that expanding agricultural land has created food for a global growing population, yet also contributed to increasing net greenhouse gas emissions, loss of natural ecosystems, and declining biodiversity (4).
Moreover, some foods are more resource-intensive than others. For example, animal-based foods require more land and water and they emit more GHG. According to Our World in Data Livestock and fish farms constitute 30% of the food-related GHG emissions. If we continue to produce and consume food on the current business as usual trajectory, we will exhaust the carbon budget with the 1.5C objective, set by the Paris Agreement.
Know Your Carbon Footprint to Save The Climate
As we mentioned earlier food production is responsible for around one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to data from Our World In Data, there are enormous differences in the GHG emissions of different foods: producing a kilogram of beef emits 60 kg of greenhouse gases while maize emits just 1 kg. Overall, animal-based foods tend to have a higher carbon footprint than plant-based foods (3).
Animal-based foods tend to have a higher carbon footprint than plant-based foods.
According to UNEP Report, most countries have a great potential to contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation through changes to their food systems. Measures such as reducing food loss and waste, shifting towards more sustainable and healthy diets, and using land consciously could reduce emissions and help to achieve the 1.5 ℃ target (4).
Reducing the carbon footprint and creating a sustainable food sector is a big deal. However, these challenges present an unprecedented opportunity for innovation and investment. Many startups are looking for solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of the food sector. One of the areas is the alternative protein market.
Alternative protein, also called alt protein, refers to “foods, ingredients, or beverages that have protein derived from non-animal sources”(5). Mainly there are 6 types of alternative proteins; plant-based, fermentation-based, cultivation, insect-based, algae-based, and fungi based.
According to BCG’s latest report, in association with Blue Horizon, by 2035, alternative proteins will represent 11% of all protein consumption around the world. BCG survey shows that consumers are concerned about climate change and 30% of consumer wants to shift their consumption habits to have a positive impact on climate. Moreover, the report finds that investing in the alternative proteins market has the highest CO2e savings per dollar of invested capital of any sector (6).
More and more people choose to eat protein alternatives for a variety of reasons like to halt climate change, avoid animal cruelty and eat consciously. Even if there are some opponents, the alternative protein market is evolving by creating new startups and attracting more and more investments. Turkey has also many alternative protein startups. We searched for and mapped them.
Turkey Alternative Protein Startups Map 2022
This map is by no means a full-scale and exhaustive map of the Turkish Alternative Protein Startup Ecosystem.
We know that we can’t save the planet from climate change through individual actions, we need collective ones. But personal choices do matter, shifting diets to more sustainable ones, eating more plant-based foods, and limiting animal-based proteins may help to halt climate change. As Robert Swan said, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” So yes, our plates can help to save the climate!
(1)Orhan Pamuk, Yeni Hayat, YKY, 13.Baskı, Şubat 2022.