Do you want to eat healthy and save the planet? Scientists advise replacing beef with this

Red raw beef concept X

The analysis found that for every kilogram of beef replaced with a kilogram of spirulina, one could save nearly 100 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions, 340 square meters of land, and 1,400 liters of water.

In a recent study led by Dr. Asaf Tzakor, a researcher in the School of Sustainability at Reichmann University, he suggested that Iceland could play a major role in the future of food production. The analysis highlighted a state-of-the-art facility in Iceland that grows spirulina algae, a highly nutritious source of protein, iron, and essential fatty acids.

A new study led by Dr. Asaf Tzakor in collaboration with an international team of scientists evaluated a state-of-the-art biotech system that grows spirulina. The system, developed and operated by Vaxa Impact Nutrition, is located at ON Power Geothermal Park in Iceland, and makes use of the resources available through the Hellisheidi Power Plant, including renewable electricity for lighting and power use, hot and cold water streams for temperature control, and fresh water for agriculture, and carbon dioxide for biofixation.

The research team found that the nutritional quality of spirulina produced by this system is superior to that of beef in terms of protein, essential fatty acids and iron, and can serve as a healthier, safer, and more sustainable alternative to the meat of the day. Diets.

Växa Biotechnology facility in Iceland

Vaksa Biotechnology facility in Iceland, which powers the production system. Credit: Pétur Gunnarsson, Vaxa Iceland

According to the study, for every kilogram of beef replaced with Icelandic spirulina, consumers will save around 1,400 liters of water, 340 square meters of fertile land, and nearly 100 kilograms of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. Furthermore, algae can be consumed in various forms, including wet biomass, or in the form of a paste, powder, or pill. For example, Icelandic spirulina powder can be used as an ingredient in pasta, pancakes, and pastries or drink an Icelandic spirulina shake.

While the role of meat in human diets has been beneficial, its environmental impact is both significant and harmful. Raising beef cattle requires arable land and raw materials, and emits greenhouse gases into the atmosphere contributing to climate change and global warming. One kilogram of beef requires approximately 1450 liters of water and 340 square meters of fertile land. Moreover, the production of one kilogram of beef results in the emission of about 100 kilograms of greenhouse gases.

Assaf Tzahor

Dr. Assaf Tzakor of the School of Sustainability at Reichsmann University. Credit: Gilad Kavalerchik

As the demand for animal-source proteins increases, so does the damage caused by the livestock sector. In response, humanity is looking for new ways to ensure its food security, including providing alternative sources of protein and essential vitamins and minerals.

Algae, especially spirulina, are among the most efficient food producers on earth and can be cultivated using various techniques. In this study, spirulina was grown in closed, controlled systems, using advanced photonic management methods (Controlled exposure to desired wavelengths), completely isolated from the harsh icelandic environment.

This biotechnology system is exceptionally resilient to fluctuations in environmental and climatic conditions. It can be deployed in a standard way in different regions of the world. Moreover, spirulina is an autotrophic and dependent organism[{” attribute=””>photosynthesis and a supply of carbon dioxide. Thus, unlike many other alternative protein sources, cultivating this food source removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and mitigates climate change.

Dr. Asaf Tzachor, from the School of Sustainability at Reichman University: “Nutritional security, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation can go hand in hand. All consumers must do is adopt a bit of Icelandic Spirulina into their meals and diets instead of beef meat. It’s healthier, safer, and more sustainable. Whatever change we wish to see in the world should be manifested in our dietary choices.”

Reference: “Environmental Impacts of Large-Scale Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) Production in Hellisheidi Geothermal Park Iceland: Life Cycle Assessment” by Asaf Tzachor, Asger Smidt-Jensen, Alfons Ramel and Margrét Geirsdóttir, 7 September 2022, Marine Biotechnology.
DOI: 10.1007/s10126-022-10162-8

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