Alternative protein sources
In the last decade there has been an increasingly need for replacing animal protein resources for reasons of changing consumer trends, sustainability concerns and animal welfare.

Alternative protein is a general phrase that refers to foods, ingredients, or beverages that have protein derived from non-animal sources such as lab-grown meat, plant-based meat, single-cell proteins from yeast or algae, and edible insects. Cultivated meat is a category of alternative protein, made from real animal cells without the cruelty of raising animals in confinement. Cells taken in a small biopsy from a living animal are cultivated in a growth medium that provides nutrients to the cells as they proliferate. The benefit is that the resulting product tastes like animal meat because it’s grown directly from animal cells.

In a recently published article of RethinkX, it is reported that this increasing technique will lead to a profound disruption on industrial animal farming. By 2030, demand for cow products will have fallen by 70%. By 2035, demand for cow products will have shrunk by 80% to 90%. Other livestock markets such as chicken, pig, and fish will follow a similar trajectory. The current industrialized, animal-agriculture system will be replaced with a Food-as-Software model, where foods are engineered by scientists at a molecular level and uploaded to databases that can be accessed by food designers anywhere in the world. The cost of modern food products will be half that of animal products and they will be superior in every functional attribute – more nutritious, tastier, and more convenient with much greater variety.

New alternative sources of protein are emerging as they are crucial to nourishing our growing population while mitigating the effects of the climate crisis.

Some of the recent technological developments in the area of alternattive protein sources are:

  • Precision fermentation’, where scientists give the microflora the precise DNA sequence that provides a blueprint for making cow whey and casein proteins. The microflora is put into a tank filled with broth, which is made of water, nutrients and sugar. Because the microflora have the blueprints for making the two proteins, when they ferment the broth, they can make pure animal protein. From there, the protein is separated from the microflora, filtered, purified and finally dried. The company says what you get from all of this is a pure protein powder that can be used to make milk, cheese, yogurt, cream cheese and even ice cream — all of which are identical to the original dairy products.
  • A Singapore-based biotech company also aims to produce cell-based milk, but human milk as well. Firstly, they obtaining stem cells from sources such as milk. They are then transferred into an environment where they convert into mammary gland cells. The mammary gland cells interact with a special formula which causes the cells to lactate. The end product - milk is obtained through a filtration process. Another company also targeted to develop alternative human breast milk.
  • Other companies also reached success with protein prodution by microbes, minced meat-like protein is produced by a specific bacteria strain.
  • Besides microbial cultivation, plant-based protein products, such as Plant-based egg, made of mung beans and turmeric is selled by a company, however, a product recall have raised the awareness of potential allergens and fraud as whole-egg and milk products were found in some types of their products.
  • With a hybrid method, combining both animal cells and plant-based proteins and fats, lab-grown bacon and pork belly has also been revealed.
  • Insect-based protein sources are also on the table. A literature study by Schothorst Feed Research shows that housefly larvae are a viable protein source in sustainable layer nutrition which can fully replace soya. If production of larvae can be up-scaled and implemented on layer farms, larvae will be price-competitive with soybean meal. Currently, EU legislation limits the use of larvae for poultry, but this is likely to change in the future.


First lab-grown meat is considered safe for consumption by United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in 2022 November. The product is a cultivated chicken made by Upside Foods. The FDA "evaluated the information submitted to the agency and has no further questions at this time about the firm's safety conclusion," the agency stated. However, it cannot be sold in the market until the approval of U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.


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