24 January 2019 from 14:00 to 16:00

Pathways to Sustainability Conference - Program Future Food parallel session

Protein transition: towards sustainable plant-based diets

Theme Food

In the second part of the Pathways to Sustainability Conference, the Future Food hub invites participants to join the discussion with the invited speakers about the complex topic Protein Transition.

For decades the growing demand for high-value animal protein in mostly Western countries has increased pressure on the livestock sector resulting in unsustainable farming.
The unprecedented growth of the demand for animal protein is expected to have a negative impact on the environment. To ensure food security, food safety and sustainability we need a transition from diets based primarily on animal proteins towards diets based on proteins produced by plants.

During this session speakers from different sectors, with different academic backgrounds will outline and discuss with the participants of this parallel session various dimensions of this complex and highly needed protein transition. This working session will build on the keynote speech of Jeroen Willemsen in the morning program of the conference.


     2 pm – 2.10 pm         

Welcome & Intro Future Food Utrecht
Rens Voesenek, Professor Plant Ecophysiology
Chairman Future Food Utrecht

2.10 pm – 2.25 pm

Azolla as a sustainable new protein source
The world population continues to grow strongly and as a result the demand for protein is steadily increasing.
In addition to the regular sources, especially soya, there is need for diversification and increased durability of protein production.
The water fern Azolla is interesting as a potential new protein source. Azolla is one of the fastest growing plants on earth, is responsible
for its own nitrogen production and produces high quality protein. The challenge now is to make the wild plant Azolla a
sustainable protein crop.
Sjef Smeekens is professor Molecular Plant Physiology at the Environmental Biology group and vice-dean research at the Faculty of Science – Utrecht University.

2.25 pm – 2.40 pm

Understanding the transition to plant-based proteins
Marko Hekkert and Maria Tziva will present an analysis of the plant-based protein transition.
They apply existing transition theories, highlight specific mechanisms and explain how the plant-based protein transition
differs from other well-known and frequently studied transition processes like the transition to sustainable energy and
sustainable mobility. Based on these differences an acceleration strategy is proposed.
Marko Hekkert is professor Dynamics of Innovation Systems, chairman of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development and head of Innovation Studies group - Utrecht University
Maria Tziva MSc is PhD Candidate at the Innovation Studies group.

2.40 pm – 2.55 pm 

We need to talk about meat
The reduction of meat consumption is a sine qua non for achieving sustainability goals. However, it is not so obvious in what way policy makers
and scientists can convince people of lowering their meat intake. Attempts to call on people’s moral principles, for example by emphasizing that ‘meat
is male’ or similar ways of persuading people to give up meat for the sake of saving the planet, have met with fierce opposition from meat lovers.
As a call on moral principles is experienced as an attempt for coercion or manipulation, it will reinforce the feeling of having the right to eat meat.
As an alternative, Denise de Ridder will explore whether inviting people to lower their meat intake for the benefit of all allows them for making the decision
of eating less meat themselves. Providing people with prompts to consider the common good will give them the opportunity to adopt a personal goal on the
spot that they can understand and appreciate, and which allows them to autonomously decide about meat consumption that speaks to their inherent aptitude for empathy.
Denise de Ridder is professor of Health Psychology at the director of the Self-RegulationLab – Utrecht University

2.55 pm - 3.30 pm

Interactive discussion with the speakers and the public
moderated by the Future Food Ambassadors:
Guido van den Ackerveken - professor Plant Microbe Interactions
Jerry van Dijk -  assistant professor Restoration Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation
Herman Lelieveldt – associate professor Food Governance, University College Roosevelt

3.30 pm – 4.00 pm


4 pm

Plenary Panel discussion: Knowledge for sustainability: should universities reinvent themselves?
with Diederik Samsom, Drs Kitty van der Heijden (World Resources Institute) and Prof Frans Berkhout (King’s College London)







Start date and time
24 January 2019 14:00
End date and time
24 January 2019 16:00
More information
Conference site