Alternative proteins research
Our work supports the switch from meat and dairy to alternative sources of protein, so reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the food system. Increasing consumer awareness and the rising demand for meat and dairy alternatives supports growth of the alternative proteins sector, which is underpinned by innovation in plant-based and cell-based technologies.
We face many barriers to identifying sustainable food solutions include:
- Data: We lack public, consistent and usable datasets on the food system, capital allocation, business strategies, and environmental and animal welfare consequences.
- Evidence: We lack core evidence about which policies, regulation, indices, labels, nudges, and systemic interventions can move the needle.
- Solutions: Food systems are complex and varied. We need to find the leverage points, and the public and private investments that can most effectively scale up new and sustainable food systems.
Engaging with partners and the global south
In addition to interdisciplinary research, SFS will build academic and public knowledge of food.
First, SFS will work towards supporting the next generation of talented researchers through developing a sustainable food masters course, and supervising masters and DPhil students.
Second, SFS will develop collaborations with researchers leading on food across ecosystems, focusing on the global south. Evidence has shown that climate science research is concentrated in the global north: less than 1% of the top 100 most cited papers from 2016 to 2020 had researchers from the entire continent of Africa - home to 16% of the world’s population (Carbon Brief, 2021).
Third, SFS will consistently engage with producers, consumers, retailers, public and people from excluded backgrounds. This includes having a diverse advisory board, combined with a focus on relationships and engagement by the lead researchers.
Complementing the wider Oxford community
This interdisciplinary food solutions initiative will complement and amplify existing Oxford research streams, cementing Oxford’s position as a global centre for food-related research. Key groups involved include the Oxford Martin School, the NDPH, the Zoology Department, the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, the Environmental Change Institute, the School of Geography and Environment more broadly, among others.
A new study published in Nature Communications finds that eating a diet rich in plant-based alternatives like vegan burgers and oat milk is significantly better for the environment than a diet of meat, fish and dairy.
Dr Mike Clark, Director of the Food Programme at the Oxford Smith School, discusses the environmental impacts of eating meat, the key research questions we still need to answer, and what individuals can do today.
Boosting the future of food: investing in new proteins and paving the way to low carbon food systems
Our global food production system is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), accounting for 26% of the total GHG emissions. Of this, 60% of emissions are attributable to animal-related products such as meat and dairy. Reducing the production and consumption of these products is vital in steerin
Our growing team
The newly-formed Food initiative team includes: