The whey forward: can lab-grown meat and animal-free dairy change the world?

Life cycle assessments show that 'clean' production methods are drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions

January 2022

Words by Alexandra Nicodemo

At WSP, Julie Sinistore has recently completed a life cycle assessment for Perfect Day, a company that makes whey protein without using cows. The whey is identical at a molecular level to whey from dairy sources but is produced by way of fermentation. This method results in up to 97% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional production methods, the assessment found. WSP is also working with Perfect Day’s partner company, Brave Robot, which makes dairy products out of the animal-free whey, on a life cycle assessment that will enable it to display its carbon footprint on the label of its ice cream.   

"Clean meat or cellular meat is using technology to make meat without animals, which could completely change the world"

Julie Sinistore, WSP

From “Dinner for 10 million”, The Possible issue 08

Our food system isn’t sustainable and it isn’t working. We urgently need to find new ways to feed fast-growing 21st century cities — or to help them feed themselves

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And there is hope for meat eaters too. “Clean meat or cellular meat is using technology to make meat without animals, which could completely change the world,” says Sinistore. A life cycle assessment by the research firm CE Delft found that a transition to lab-grown meat could be scalable and cost-effective enough to compete with traditional meat production by 2030. Additionally, lab-grown meat production would result in the use of 95% less land, 78% less water and cause 93% less air pollution compared with conventional beef production. The assessment also determined that its carbon emissions would be 92% lower than beef, 52% lower than pork and 17% lower than chicken, assuming the lab-grown meat facilities run on renewable energy sources.

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