Animal-based vs plant-based protein quality. A survey of millennial students nutritional knowledge and food preferences

Negro, Giulia and Tsiami, Amalia ORCID: (2022) Animal-based vs plant-based protein quality. A survey of millennial students nutritional knowledge and food preferences. In: 12th International Conference on Culinary Arts and Sciences 2022, 1-3 Jun 2022, Lyon, France.

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The food system around the mass production of meat and by-products constitutes a major driver of global warming, diminution of Earth’s resources, land degradation and deforestation, as well as contamination of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems (IPCC, 2019; UN Environment Programme, 2018). At its current levels, worldwide food consumption practices are high, and particularly so in meat products. Proof lies in the environmental data, which is swiftly accumulating on the unsustainability of meat (Sabaté et al., 2014).
At the present day, meat production is accountable for occupying over half of the Earth’s cultivable land resources and for driving greenhouse gas emissions. Supporting those findings is Eshel’s research (2014), which found that meat eaters employ over 160 percent of land resources when compared to those people who are reliant on a plant-based diet. In fact, although varying across several crop categories and regions, the global average water footprint related to crop production is remarkably lower when compared to the effect of meat production over freshwater sources (Mekonnen et al., 2012).
Meat production necessitates around 2422 Gm3 of water per year, the provision of just 1 kg of animal protein demands almost 100 times more water than producing 1 kg of grain protein (Lonnie and Johnstone, 2020). As a result, only a mitigated, global shift in dietary changes that are mainly reliant on nutritionally balanced, plant-based sourced of protein could sustainably feed 10 billion people by 2050. This would guarantee nutritional adequacy, food security and food sufficiency (LEAP, 2020; Willet et al., 2019). According to the European Environment Agency (2019) there are increasing concerns related to the linkage between an excessive consumption of animal-derived proteins and issues related to health and environment. Within this context, 1 in 5 people living in the UK have already stopped or reduced their meat consumption (The Vegan Society, 2020).
Currently, there is increased awareness, particularly popular within millennials, regarding the adoption of a healthy, balanced diet which includes plant-based sources of protein. A conscious consumerism is in fact driving the trend towards the consumption of novelty food, more particularly plant-based, protein-rich products. In fact, according to data collected by Proveg Int. (2019) the UK's purchase and consumption rates of vegan products, more specifically milk, meat, margarine, cheese, readymade meals, and seafood, are amongst the highest in Europe. Within this frame of perpetual development, consumers are looking beyond the label. Eager to experiment with the inclusion of a wider variety of food options into their diet, their interest in converting and expanding their palate is increasing and subject to a continuous evolution (Mintel, 2018).
What used to appeal to a niche sector, is guaranteed to have a prosperous future within the food and beverage industry. In fact, vegans and vegetarians is projected to be a quarter of the British population by 2025, and flexitarians just under half of all UK consumers (Sainsbury’s, 2019). Despite the increase in the number of people switching to a plant-based diet, meat consumption remains highly ingrained in Western culture and the disposition to stop or reduce consumption of animal products therefore remains relatively low. Consumers often describe plant-based products to have unappealing taste, texture, and appearance. Meat substitutes are difficult to find, often highly priced and more challenging to cook than their meat counterparts (Forbes, 2019; Mintel, 2020).
The lack of a wide array of studies conducted on the subject might be due to the concept of protein quality that remains a “grey area”. The consumption of proteins-enriched products is nothing but a relatively recent trend. The significance of this research ties back to the fact that there is a limited amount of evidence and literature related to familiarity with the concept of protein content and perceptions related to healthfulness and wellbeing. More importantly, no past research has taken into consideration millennial university students.
This study aims to assess millennial university students’ nutritional knowledge and preferences related to food regimes, with a particular insight on the protein quality content of food, which focuses and distinguishes mainly between plant-based and animal-based protein sources.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Subjects: Hospitality and tourism > Culinary arts
Hospitality and tourism > Culinary arts > Food service operations
Hospitality and tourism > Culinary arts > Food studies
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Depositing User: Amalia Tsiami
Date Deposited: 23 May 2022 16:00
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2022 09:55


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