Calculating environmental impacts
The environmental impacts of the products were determined by carrying out a life cycle assessment (LCA) in which the environmental impacts were calculated across the whole life cycle of each product. The LCA method also allows us to investigate different types of environmental impact, in this case we included climate change
, water use
and land use
This study used a ‘cradle-to-grave’ system boundary, which includes all the important processes in the production chain of the meat products and meat substitutes, from the raw materials to the treatment of the final wastes, such as the packaging.
Four comparative assessments were made of the following types of meat and meat substitutes:
- Vegetarian mince v minced beef and pork
- Vegetarian chicken pieces v chicken pieces
- Vegetarian hamburgers v beef hamburgers
- Vegetarian sausages v pork sausages
Innovative vegetarian products
In addition to these comparisons we determined the environmental impacts of a number of innovative vegetarian products based on ingredients such as seaweed and insects.
The results of the study (CO2
emissions per kg of prepared product) are summarised in the chart on the right.