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The overlooked importance of food disadoption for the environmental sustainability of new foods

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Cottrell, RS ORCID: 0000-0002-6499-7503, Maier, J, Ferraro, DM, Blasco, GD, Geyer, R, Froehlich, HE and Halpern, BS 2021 , 'The overlooked importance of food disadoption for the environmental sustainability of new foods' , Environmental Research Letters, vol. 16, no. 10 , pp. 1-11 , doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac269c.

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Abstract

With human food production a major driver of global environmental change, there is increasing recognition of the importance of shifting towards more sustainable dietary patterns. With wholesale dietary change notoriously difficult to implement at scale, various new food analogues have emerged to serve as qualitatively similar (e.g. taste, texture) but lower environmental impact alternatives for existing foods, particularly animal protein. While new foods may have low environmental impacts, very little is known about how reliably new products drive the disadoption (permanently reduced or ceased consumption) of existing foods. Using simple models of the interplay between adoption levels, substitution ratios of new and existing foods, and different products targeted for replacement, we explore the role of food disadoption on the global warming potential of protein consumption by a theoretical human population. We show how counterintuitive changes to the total environmental impacts attributable to food consumption are plausible following widespread uptake of 'sustainable' new foods if they do not reliably drive the disadoption of existing high-impact alternatives. Greater empirical evidence of how effectively new foods drive the disadoption of their intended targets is needed to prevent mass development of alternatives that exacerbate the environmental impact of human diets.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Cottrell, RS and Maier, J and Ferraro, DM and Blasco, GD and Geyer, R and Froehlich, HE and Halpern, BS
Keywords: adoption, disadoption, environmental impacts, GHGs, substitution, environmental sustainability
Journal or Publication Title: Environmental Research Letters
Publisher: Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd.
ISSN: 1748-9326
DOI / ID Number: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac269c
Copyright Information:

© 2021 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.

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