The topic of sustainability is more important to humanity than ever before. We are faced with serious global challenges and our task, our duty should be to preserve this planet we live on. To avoid activities that are detrimental to our environment and to promote things that serve the well-being of our planet. In the end, the well-being of our planet is also connected to our own well-being.
It cannot go on like this, something has to change!
Fortunately, we can influence our environment through our diet, especially if many of us take action. There are foods that are more environmentally friendly and others that are more detrimental to the environment. It is generally known that animal products are for the most part associated with a worse environmental impact than plant foods. So, they typically require more arable land, consume more water as well as energy and emit more greenhouse gases.
As a result, the number of vegetarians and vegans is increasing rapidly. More and more people want to reduce the amount of animal products in their diet and turn to plant alternatives. Unfortunately, these plant proteins often come with issues. They could have a suboptimal biological value and nutrition profile, insufficient functional properties for use in complex food systems and in most cases, they have an unpleasant off-taste.
Soy has also fallen into disrepute with many people because of the large-scale clearing of rainforests, its potential genetic modification, and the phytoestrogens it contains. In addition, many people also want to give up wheat, especially due to the popularity of a gluten-free diet. The fact is, more and more people are desiring good, tasty plant-based alternatives, preferably free of soy and wheat.
For this reason, we at SACCHA asked ourselves the question, is it possible to produce a high-quality end product from a waste product?
Yes, it definitely is. The solution is a completely new and previously untapped protein source: Brewer’s yeast. It combines the advantages of both plant and animal products and is even more sustainable than both.
Brewer’s yeast is a waste product from beer production, which is produced in large quantities. In German breweries alone, almost 300.000 tonnes are produced each year. If this yeast would be further processed for something useful, then this disposal would not be necessary. In fact, it is possible to obtain valuable proteins for human nutrition from brewer’s yeast. Proteins 100% Made in Germany, without the many negative environmental impacts of animal products, and even plant protein sources, which often come from far-away countries, like for example peas, rice and soybeans.
We as consumers, can consciously select those protein sources which are climate-friendly and consequently effect our environment in a positive way.
We have found that brewer’s yeast as protein source is far superior to other protein sources in terms of environmental aspects and sustainability. Of all the protein sources studied, brewer’s yeast protein performs best in all 4 examined environmental categories. This means that less arable land is needed for production, less water and energy are used and fewer GHG emissions are emitted.
Beef is the worst of all. Compared to brewer’s yeast protein, beef requires 400 times more arable land, 250 times more water, 17 times more energy and emits 85 times more GHG emissions per 1 kg of crude protein. But even a plant protein source like pea protein performs much worse than brewer’s yeast protein with the requirement of about 60 times more arable land, 35 times more water, 2 times more energy and 13 times more GHG emissions to produce.
The reason brewer’s yeast is more sustainable and has a better environmental impact than any other protein source, is because it is a waste product of the beer production. Beer is produced anyway, and brewer’s yeast is a secondary by-product of the process.
The next question is to what extent it is possible to incorporate brewer’s yeast Protein into the diet of the German population.
One could cover the entire protein needs of more than 6,2 million people every year with brewer’s yeast Protein alone, which got extracted from German brewer’s Yeast.
At 7,84%, each of the 80 million people in Germany could cover their protein needs every day with brewer’s yeast Protein.
In the future, brewer’s yeast as protein source will be an excellent and sustainable alternative to conventional proteins such as whey protein, soy protein or pea protein. As a result, these proteins can be reduced and thus our environment is influenced in a positive way!
Written by Robin Hofmann