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Nutritional and Environmental Sustainability of Lentil Reformulated Beef Burger


Abstract and Figures

Numerous studies have shown that replacing a portion of beef with plant-based foods in daily diets of high-income nations can improve health, nutrition, and environmental consequences globally. Pulses are one of the major plant-based protein foods shown to have both environmental and nutritional benefits. For consumers to adopt more plant-based foods in their diets, more options are needed that meet consumer demands for taste, convenience, nutrition, and sustainability along with dietary preferences. Beef-based burger patties can be made more sustainably, nutritiously, and cost-effectively while maintaining palatability by reformulating with a portion of pulses such as whole cooked lentils. The aim of this study was to quantify the nutritional and environmental benefits of such lentil-reformulated beef burgers. Here we compared the nutrient balance score (considering 27 essential macro and micronutrients) and environmental footprints (carbon, bluewater, water scarcity, land use, and biodiversity) of an all-beef burger with a beef burger reformulated with a portion of cooked lentil puree. The geographic resolution of the analysis was Saskatchewan, Canada. Results showed that partial replacement of a lean beef burger with cooked lentil puree increased the nutrient density by ~20%, decreased the life cycle environmental footprint by ~33%, and reduced the cost by 26%. In particular, the lentil reformulated burger had 60 times higher dietary fiber, three times higher total folate, five times higher manganese, and 1.6 times higher selenium than the all-beef burger. We highlight the importance of using high-spatial resolution inventory of agricultural inputs and characterization factors (impacts per unit agricultural inputs) to obtain more accurate environmental results. The results underscore the potential of food innovation to contribute towards multiple global sustainable development goals.
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Nutritional and Environmental Sustainability of
Lentil Reformulated Beef Burger
Abhishek Chaudhary 1, * and Denis Tremorin 2
1Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh 208016, India
2Pulse Canada, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0A5, Canada;
*Correspondence:; Tel.: +91-512-259-2087
Received: 25 June 2020; Accepted: 5 August 2020; Published: 19 August 2020
Numerous studies have shown that replacing a portion of beef with plant-based foods in
daily diets of high-income nations can improve health, nutrition, and environmental consequences
globally. Pulses are one of the major plant-based protein foods shown to have both environmental
and nutritional benefits. For consumers to adopt more plant-based foods in their diets, more options
are needed that meet consumer demands for taste, convenience, nutrition, and sustainability along
with dietary preferences. Beef-based burger patties can be made more sustainably, nutritiously,
and cost-eectively while maintaining palatability by reformulating with a portion of pulses such
as whole cooked lentils. The aim of this study was to quantify the nutritional and environmental
benefits of such lentil-reformulated beef burgers. Here we compared the nutrient balance score
(considering 27 essential macro and micronutrients) and environmental footprints (carbon, bluewater,
water scarcity, land use, and biodiversity) of an all-beef burger with a beef burger reformulated
with a portion of cooked lentil puree. The geographic resolution of the analysis was Saskatchewan,
Canada. Results showed that partial replacement of a lean beef burger with cooked lentil puree
increased the nutrient density by ~20%, decreased the life cycle environmental footprint by ~33%,
and reduced the cost by 26%. In particular, the lentil reformulated burger had 60 times higher dietary
fiber, three times higher total folate, five times higher manganese, and 1.6 times higher selenium
than the all-beef burger. We highlight the importance of using high-spatial resolution inventory of
agricultural inputs and characterization factors (impacts per unit agricultural inputs) to obtain more
accurate environmental results. The results underscore the potential of food innovation to contribute
towards multiple global sustainable development goals.
lentils; pulses; nutrition; nutrient density; agriculture; carbon footprint; greenhouse gas;
beef; burgers; water scarcity; biodiversity
1. Introduction
Governments and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of dietary
sustainability for the achievement of the UN 2030 global sustainable development goals (SDGs) [
The three dimensions of sustainability are: social (e.g., nutrition), environmental, and economic. Many
studies including the recent EAT-Lancet commission’s report on sustainable food systems showed
that in order to feed healthy and nutritious diets to a projected 9 billion people by 2050 and at the
same time not transgressing the environmental planetary boundaries, meat consumption needs to be
reduced especially in high-income nations and replaced with plant-based foods [
]. In particular,
the high carbon footprint of beef products has received a lot of scientific and media attention over the
past decade, as a major contributor to dietary carbon footprints, and to agricultural greenhouse gas
emissions as a whole [
]. Beef has also been highlighted as a food with a high-water footprint [
and with a large land footprint [
] leading to negative consequences on biodiversity through habitat
Sustainability 2020,12, 6712; doi:10.3390/su12176712
Sustainability 2020,12, 6712 2 of 18
loss and degradation [
]. In some cases though, the production of beef and other ruminants for
meat can be relatively beneficial, as grazing land and perennial forage production can provide higher
ecological benefits and ecosystems services such as carbon storage and wildlife habitat compared with
intensive crop production [15,16].
Plant-based sources of protein typically have much lower carbon, water, and land footprints
than animal-based sources of protein [
]. Pulses are one of the major plant-based protein foods
shown to have both environmental and nutritional benefits [
]. At the farm level, most pulses
do not require irrigation and are well suited for semi-arid, water-scarce regions [
]. Pulse crops can
fix atmospheric nitrogen and thus reduce nitrogen fertilizer requirements leading to reduced risk
of nitrogen emissions to water and lower greenhouse gas emissions [
]. In addition, incorporating
pulses such as peas or lentils in the crop-mix can improve soil health, yield, and protein content
of the next crop [
]. Per serving, pulses contain high amounts of essential vitamins, minerals,
protein, and dietary fiber, and contain no cholesterol and little fat. The consumption of beef and animal
meats also has nutritional benefits, as meat contains high amounts of balanced protein, B vitamins,
and minerals like iron and zinc per unit serving. At the dietary level, replacing a portion of meat
with pulse-based food into daily diets can simultaneously reduce environmental impacts and improve
nutritional outcomes worldwide [
] and this needs to be assessed at a country and individual
level. Canada is one of the largest producer of pulses worldwide and recent life cycle assessment (LCA)
studies have shown that partial replacement of refined wheat flour with Canadian yellow pea flour in
traditional cereal (wheat) based foods such as pan bread, breakfast cereals, or pasta can both improve
the nutritional density and decrease the life cycle carbon footprint by up to 10% [
]. In addition,
this work also demonstrated that utilizing wheat sourced from improved cropping systems (in this
case, from a diverse crop rotation vs. a monoculture rotation), also improved the carbon footprint of
the final food product. Apart from yellow peas, lentils are another category of pulses whose increased
consumption can improve the sustainability of food systems and diets [23].
Considering the environmental and nutritional benefits of pulses, they are increasingly being
included as ingredients in a range of food applications including meat alternatives. For example, pea
protein is used in Beyond Burger
products that imitate beef-based foods in texture and appearance
but are 100% plant-based [
]. Note that many plant-based meat substitute products to date are based
on soy protein isolates and not whole legumes. Many are also not fortified with iron or vitamin B12
and thus cannot be considered equivalent to meat. Regardless, consumers of beef burgers may be
reluctant to abandon them altogether in favor of purely plant-based burgers because cultural and
personal factors are key to individual food habits [
]. Another opportunity exists to improve the
sustainability, nutrition, and cost of beef-based burger patties by reformulating them with pulses such
as whole cooked lentils. Blended burger and blended meat applications are becoming more popular
in foodservice and retail in North America. There is an opportunity to market the sustainability and
nutritional advantages of these blended burgers with appropriate quantitative research. However,
the exact nutritional and environmental benefits of such lentil-reformulated beef burgers have not yet
been quantified. Another research gap is that most studies focus only on greenhouse gas emissions
(GHG) as the sole indicator of environmental sustainability or do not take into account production
practices while calculating the environmental impacts of foods. It is possible for a product to have
low GHG footprint but high land, water or biodiversity footprint depending upon where or how it is
grown [
]. Similarly, regarding nutritional sustainability of food items and diets, many studies just
focus on caloric or protein requirements while ignoring the micronutrients whose deficiency aect
over 2 billion people worldwide [27]. In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, metrics for water use,
land use eciency, and biodiversity impacts have been identified as key indicators of interest by the
food industry. Recently, under the ambit of UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative [
], there have been
advancements in methodologies for water use and biodiversity impact assessment by incorporating
factors such as regional/local water scarcity [
] as well as endemicity and threat level of species
occurring in the region whose natural habitat is being encroached for food production purposes [30].
Sustainability 2020,12, 6712 3 of 18
The objective of this paper is to present the nutritional and environmental (GHG, bluewater,
water scarcity, land use, biodiversity) consequences of reformulating beef burger patties with whole
cooked Canadian lentils. Rather than using the country-average values, the calculated impacts will
take into consideration the exact location of the crop or beef (sub-national level) production and
irrigation water source. This will ensure that the environmental impact results are spatially explicit
and account for the spatial variability in yield, soil carbon, water scarcity, and biodiversity across
Canada. The nutritional quality of the traditional all-beef (without cooked lentils) and reformulated
(with cooked lentils) burgers is compared using the relative amounts of 27 essential nutrients and five
nutrients of health concern [7].
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Ingredient Composition of Food Products
Recipes for traditional all-beef and lentil reformulated beef burger patty were obtained from
popular websites [
]. The serving size of typical beef burger patty in Canada is 4 oz (i.e., 115 g)
containing around 113.77 g of raw ground beef (~98.93% of total mass), one g of salt (0.87%) and 0.23 g
of black pepper (0.2%).
On the other hand, the lentil reformulated beef burger patty contains 75.84 g of raw ground beef
(66%), and 30.41 g of whole cooked lentils (26.5%), 7.51 g of water while the amounts of salt and pepper
remains the same as in the traditional burger patty. The formulation for this product was provided
by, an organization tasked with promoting the consumption of lentils in North America
and around the world. This organization is promoting this blended burger concept and has tested the
recipe. This recipe consists of 67% beef and 33% lentil puree, of which 26.5% is whole cooked lentils
and 6.5% is water. (33% lentil puree =26.5% whole cooked lentils +6.5% water.)
Since the nutrient composition of regular and lean beef diers considerably, we considered them
separately. We thus carried out the nutritional analysis for four dierent burger patties—regular beef,
lean beef, regular beef reformulated with lentil puree, and lean beef reformulated with lentil puree.
Lentil puree is simply 80% cooked lentils mixed with 20% water by mass. A list of ingredients used in
each of the four patty is listed in Table 1.
Table 1.
Mass of raw ingredients (g) required for the production of one serving (4 oz, 115g) of traditional
and lentil reformulated beef burger patty.
Ingredients Salt Water Whole
Cooked Lentils Black Pepper Raw Ground
Beef, Regular
Raw Ground
Beef, Lean
Regular beef burger
with lentil puree 1 7.5 30.4 0.2 75.8 0
Lean beef burger with
lentil puree 1 7.5 30.4 0.2 0 75.8
Regular beef burger 1 0 0.00 0.2 113.8 0
Lean beef burger 1 0 0.00 0.2 0 113.8
2.2. Nutrient Composition of Ingredients
The nutrient composition (per 100-g) of raw ingredients used in making beef patties is presented
in Table 2. The nutrient composition data for whole cooked green lentils was provided by independent
nutrient analysis (Silliker Canada Co., Markham, Ontario, MB, Canada) while for the other ingredients,
the values were taken from the Canadian Nutrient File [32].
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Table 2.
Nutrient composition of burger ingredients are presented, i.e., amounts of energy, 27 essential
nutrients and five nutrients of health concern per 100 g of ingredients.
Nutrient Content Per
100 g Salt Whole
Cooked Lentils Black Pepper Raw Ground
Beef, Regular
Raw Ground
Beef, Lean
Source: CNF#: 214 Independent
analysis CNF#: 198 CNF#: 2786 CNF#: 2683
Energy (kcal) 0 156 251 293 207
Water (g) 0 61.05 12.46 58.12 66.48
Protein (g) 0 12.82 10.39 16.55 19.58
Dietary fiber (g) 0 9.7 25.3 0 0
α-Linolenic Acid (mg) 0 0.05 * 0.152 0.103 0.055
Linoleic Acid (mg) 0 0.19 * 0.694 0.327 0.248
Total Folate (µg) 0 42.8 17 7 8
Niacin (mg) 0 2.41 * 2.11 7.775 9.442
Pantothenic acid (mg) 0 0.638 * 1.399 0.562 0.708
Riboflavin (mg) 0 0.073 * 0.180 0.185 0.228
Thiamin (mg) 0 0.169 * 0.108 0.1 0.108
Vitamin A as RAE (µg) 0 20 27 0 4
Vitamin B6(mg) 0 0.178 * 0.291 0.212 0.238
Vitamin B12 (µg) 0 0 0 2.35 2.35
Vitamin C (mg) 0 1 0 0 0
Vitamin D (µg) 0 0 * 0 0.1 0.1
Vitamin E (mg) 0 0.11 * 1.04 0.17 0.17
Vitamin K (µg) 0 1.7 * 163.7 0.5 1.8
Choline (mg) 0 32.7 * 11.3 56.4 56.4
Calcium (mg) 24 27.6 443 11 10
Copper (mg) 0.03 0.251 * 1.33 0.1 0.082
Iron (mg) 0.33 2.6 9.71 1.8 1.8
Magnesium (mg) 1 40.8 171 17 19
Manganese (mg) 0.1 0.494 * 12.75 0.017 0.01
Phosphorous (mg) 0 132 158 136 161
Potassium (mg) 8 274 1329 231 271
Selenium (µg) 0.1 30 * 4.9 12.7 15
Zinc (mg) 0.1 1.15 1.19 4.18 4.58
Nutrients of concern
Total Fat (g) 0 0.55 3.26 24.7 13.68
Trans Fat (g) 0 0.01 * 0 0.61 0.462
Saturated Fat (g) 0 0.15 1.392 10.168 5.462
Cholesterol (mg) 0 0 0 66 60
Sugar (g) 0 0.38 0.64 0 0
Sodium (mg) 38758 6 20 60 63
* Data corresponding to these nutrients were not provided by the independent analysis and was imputed from the
data for boiled lentils from the Canadian Nutrient File (File #3393).
2.3. Calculation of the Nutritional Quality of Burger Patties
By multiplying the ingredient amounts (from Table 1) with their respective nutrient composition
values per g (from Table 2), the amounts of dierent nutrients in each of the four burger patties were
obtained. The nutritional quality of traditional and reformulated patties was determined using the
Nutrient Balance Concept (NBC) proposed by Fern et al. [
] and applied by Chaudhary et al. [
] for
their yellow pea reformulation study. The NBC provides an aggregated measure of nutrient density of
the foods by averaging the ratio of amount of qualifying (essential) or disqualifying (of health concern)
nutrients in 2000 kcal of a given food with their daily recommended intake values (DVs). The NBC
consists of three metrics: the Qualifying index (QI), the Disqualifying Index (DI), and the Nutrient
Balance Score (NBS).
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The QI is defined as the mean of the ratio of qualifying nutrients contained in 2000 kcal of a given
food relative to their Daily Values (DV) across qualifying nutrients Equation (1).
2000 kcal
is the QI of an individual food
, 2000 kcal represents the total daily energy intake to which
nutrition labelling is based in Canada [
], and
is the amount of calories per serving of food
(115 g
for patties here). The amount of each qualifying nutrient arelative to DV is represented by
is the number of qualifying nutrients (q) considered (
=27) and
is amount of nutrient
the food
. When the QI value is >1, the food is considered nutrient dense but if the QI value is <1,
the food is termed as energy dense [33].
The daily recommended intake values (DVs for qualifying nutrients are summarized in Table 3.
DVs are based on Dietary Reference Amounts established by National Academy of Sciences and are
based on the population coverage approach [
]. DV for water, protein,
-linolenic acid, and linoleic
acid have not been adopted in Canada [
]. Therefore, for these nutrients, Dietary Reference Intakes
(DRIs) from the National Academy of Sciences were used and established as the average DVs for men
and women 19 years of age [37].
Table 3.
Summary of Daily Values (DV) for qualifying (essential) nutrients and Mean Reference
Values (MRV) for disqualifying nutrients (of health concern) for Canadian Adults used to calculate
the Qualifying Index, Disqualifying Index, and Nutrient Balance Score for reformulated and
traditional foods.
Qualifying Nutrient Daily Value
Water 3.2 L
Protein 50 g
Dietary Fiber 28 g *
α-Linolenic Acid 1.4 g
Linoleic Acid 14 g
Total folate/folic acid 400 µg *
Niacin 16 mg *
Pantothenic acid 5 mg *
Riboflavin 1.3 mg *
Thiamin 1.2 mg *
Vitamin A 900 µg *
Vitamin B61.7 mg *
Vitamin B12 2.4 µg *
Vitamin C 90 mg *
Vitamin D 20 µg *
Vitamin E 15 mg *
Vitamin K 120 µg *
Choline 550 mg *
Calcium 1300 mg *
Copper 0.9 mg *
Iron 18 mg *
Magnesium 420 mg *
Manganese 2.3 mg *
Phosphorous 1250 mg *
Potassium 4700 mg *
Selenium 55 µg *
Zinc 11 mg *
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Table 3. Cont.
Qualifying Nutrient Daily Value
Disqualifying Nutrients Mean Reference Value per day
Sugar 100 g *
Sodium 2300 mg *
Total Fat 75 g *
Saturated Fat 20 g *
Cholesterol 300 mg *
* Government of Canada [
Daily Reference Intakes (DRIs) established by The National Academy of Sciences
were used as Daily Values for water, protein, α-Linolenic Acid, and linoleic acid [37].
The disqualifying index (DI) represents the levels of 5 nutrients of health concern d(sugar, sodium,
total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol) in a food relative to their daily Maximal Reference Values (MRV):
2000 kcal
is the disqualifying index for food
. Again, 2000 kcal represents the total daily energy
intake, and
is the energy content of a serving of patty (115 g).
is the number of disqualifying
nutrients (q) considered (
=5) and
is amount of disqualifying nutrient
in the food
. MRVs for
the five disqualifying nutrients are summarized in Table 3. Trans fatty acids were not included as a
disqualifying nutrient in this study as levels were not available for lentils in the Canadian Nutrient
File, and the Government of Canada has banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils in Canada [
When the DI value is >1, the food is termed as “compromised” because it contains one or more nutrients
of health concern in quantities higher than their maximum recommended amounts [33].
The third metric, the nutrient balance score (NBS) is simply the average of qualifying index values
of all 27 essential nutrients (Nq=27) considered here:
is the nutrient balance for food
is the qualifying index for each essential nutrient
in food kwhich is basically equal to the numerator term
in Equation (1). Note that when
calculating the NBS, any
>1 is truncated to 1 assuming that if the daily requirement for a
specific qualifying nutrient is already met through a food, any increase in its amount will not improve
the overall nutrient density of the food. This takes care of those scenarios where a food has very
high amount of any one particular nutrient but negligible amounts of all other nutrients. A nutrient
balance score (NBS) of 100% implies that the food contains the 100% of the daily requirement of every
27 essential nutrient in a 2000 kcal diet [33].
2.4. Environmental Footprints of Boneless Beef
The life cycle greenhouse gas emissions, bluewater use, and land use footprint of 1 kg of Western
Canadian bone free beef at packers’ gate were obtained from the recently published report of the
Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) [
]. They found that the carbon footprint of
bone free beef at packers’ gate is 24.5 kg of CO
eq. At the first life cycle stage “farming or animal
production,” 11.4 kg of CO
equivalents are emitted to produce one kg of live cattle weight at the farm
gate. Methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide are responsible for 57%, 30%, and 13% of the total
emissions. The major GHG sources are enteric fermentation methane emissions due to cattle digestion
(51.5%), manure production, and management (27.7%) and feed production (19.3%). On-farm energy
Sustainability 2020,12, 6712 7 of 18
use and animal transport contribute 1.3% and 0.3% to the total production stage carbon footprint
respectively [16].
After the “farming” stage, the next life cycle stage considered was “transportation between farm
and packers” that considers fuel consumption during transportation, dressing rate, and loss of animal
weight (shrinkage) during transportation. The results after this stage were 18.7 kg CO2eq. per kg of
carcass weight. As of this stage, the animal production accounted for >94% of the GHG emissions and
environmental impact, with fossil fuel consumed during transportation to packers representing about
5.5% [16].
The third life cycle stage considered was “packing” that constitutes environmental impacts due
to the packing of the meat including impacts due to the energy, water, materials such as corrugated
cardboard, polyethylene (PE) film, wood, etc., and chemicals used for cleaning and disinfection and
emitted euents. As of this stage, the farming stage contributed to 92–95% of total GHG, water,
and land use impacts, while the transportation and packing stage contributed 3–5% and 1–2% of the
total footprint respectively [
]. The retail and consumption (food waste by consumers) stages of
beef life cycle were not considered as these are assumed to be same for both traditional and lentil
reformulated beef burgers.
Regarding water depletion, the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) report found
that on average 235 L of blue water (surface water and groundwater bodies) is required per kg of live
weight at the farm gate for Canadian beef production [
]. Water used for irrigation of feed crops
(mainly hay, barley, and maize) represents 81% of the total footprint (indirect footprint), while animal
water consumption (direct footprint) represents 19%. Groundwater, flowing surface water, and lake
water contribute equally about 32% of the animal water consumption.
The land footprint was found to be 93 m
of agricultural land per kg of live weight at the farm
gate with pasture-dedicated areas contributing 79% and feed ration (hay and barley) dedicated areas
contribute 21% of the total land footprint. Note that the land footprint varied widely (21 m
to 415 m
per kg of live weight) among the farms depending upon the grazing surfaces used [16].
The environmental footprints after the first three life cycle stages were 24.5 kg CO2eq., 508.3 L of
water depletion, and 196.4 m
of agricultural land occupation per kg of western Canadian bone-free
beef meat at packers’ end gate. These values were used for our regular and lean beef burger patty
environmental analysis.
2.5. Environmental Footprints of Cooked Lentils
Greenhouse gas emissions from the cultivation stage of lentils in western Canada was obtained
from recent reports prepared by (S&T)
Consultants Inc. for Canadian Roundtable on Sustainable Crops
(CRSC; [
]). They found that the carbon footprint of 1 kg of dry lentils produced in Saskatchewan
province is
0.1156 kg CO
eq. after accounting for the positive eect of Western Canadian cropping
practices (reduced tillage and reduced summer fallow) on soil organic carbon (SOC). Without accounting
for SOC, the carbon footprint of 1 kg lentils is 0.2152 kg CO2eq.
There were four major sources of production related GHG emissions. Almost 50% of the farming
stage carbon footprint of lentils can be attributed to direct/in-direct nitrous oxide (N
O) emissions from
the field, 26% to direct on-farm energy use for cultivation, 18% to fertilizer manufacturing, and 6%
to seeds and pesticide manufacturing. The carbon sequestration associated with SOC due to lentil
cultivation was found to be 0.331 kg CO2eq. per kg of lentil produced.
Since the burger patties contain the cooked lentils, the GHG emissions associated with the cooking
stage of lentils was also included. It was assumed that 6.67 MJ of energy from Canadian natural gas is
required to obtain 1 kg of cooked lentils as mentioned in a recent report [
]. The cooking conversion
factor utilized was 2.326 meaning that 1 kg of dry lentils when cooked will yield 2.326 kg of cooked
lentils. The GHG emission factor for Canadian natural gas was taken as 0.04988 kg CO
eq. per MJ [
Summing up the cultivation and cooking stage, the total carbon footprint of 1 kg of cooked lentils
sourced from Saskatchewan province was 0.283 kg CO2eq.
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The total water requirement of one 1 kg dry lentils grown in Saskatchewan is 1650 L according to
a recent study by Ding et al. [
]. In most of the divisions (census divisions) within Saskatchewan,
the lentils are rain-fed and the bluewater footprint of lentils is zero. However, some farms in division
7 and 11 of Saskatchewan are irrigated through freshwater from Lake Diefenbaker. In the irrigated
areas, around 76% of total water demand of lentils is fulfilled naturally through precipitation and the
rest (24%) through irrigation. The bluewater footprint of irrigated lentils is calculated as 398 L/kg
=0.24 ×1650
). The lentil area in division 7 and 11 that are irrigated was derived from a survey of
irrigated producers in Saskatchewan [
]. Finally, we calculated the production-weighted bluewater
and land footprint for dry lentils produced in Saskatchewan province of western Canada (detailed
calculations shown in Table 4). On average, 0.67 L of bluewater and 6.67 m
of cropland is used to
produce 1 kg of lentils in Saskatchewan. It was assumed that 0.77 L of water is required to obtain 1 kg
of cooked lentils [40].
Table 4.
Summary of lentil production, land footprint (yield), and bluewater footprint in each census
division of Saskatchewan for the year 2017.
Lentil Acres
Footprint (L/Kg)
Production ×Bluewater
2 164,200 383,800 0.43 Rain fed 0 0
3 233,400 475,500 0.49 Rain fed 0 0
4 140,800 326,200 0.43 Rain fed 0 0
6 222,500 369,800 0.60 Rain fed 0 0
7 352,485 600,814 0.59 Rain fed 0 0
7 2515 4286 0.59 Irrigated 398 1,000,790
8 505,800 813,800 0.62 Rain fed 0 0
11 169,590 246,938 0.69 Rain fed 0 0
11 1210 1762 0.69 Irrigated 398 481,507
12 220,300 285,700 0.77 Rain fed 0 0
13 198,900 273,700 0.73 Rain fed 0 0
P=2,211,700 P=1,482,297
Weighted average Bluewater footprint for dry Saskatchewan lentils (L/kg)
1,482,297–2,211,700 =0.67
Data taken from crop production statistics of Saskatchewan government [44].
The environmental footprints from transportation, packaging, retail, and post-consumer recycling
stage of lentil life cycle were not taken into account as the impact of these stages is highly site-dependent
and within the LCA, these stages often contribute very little to the total footprint of the plant-based
foods relative to the production stage [45].
2.6. Water Scarcity Assessment
For assessing the impact of beef and lentil production on regional water scarcity, the Available
Water Remaining (AWARE) method recently proposed by Boulay et al. [
] was applied. This method
is an outcome of a two-year consensus building process by the Water Use in Life Cycle Assessment
(WULCA), a working group of the UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative [
]. The recommended method,
AWARE, is based on the quantification of the relative available water remaining per area once the
demand of humans and aquatic ecosystems has been met, answering the question: What is the potential
to deprive another user (human or ecosystem) when consuming water in this area? The resulting
characterization factor (CF) ranges between 0.1 and 100 and can be used to calculate water scarcity
footprints of agricultural products.
The total bluewater footprint of a food product is multiplied with the AWARE agricultural
characterization factor for the region where the product was produced to calculate the water
scarcity footprint:
Water Scarcity Footprint =Water consumption ×CFAWARE (4)
The unit of water scarcity footprint is m3world eq./m3consumed. The characterization factor is
limited to a range from 0.1 to 100, with a value of 1 corresponding to a region with the same amount of
Sustainability 2020,12, 6712 9 of 18
remaining water per area within a certain period of time as the world average, values <1 for regions
with less problems of scarcity than the world average and a value of 10, for example, representing
a region where there is 10 times less water remaining per area within a certain period of time as the
world average, or that it takes 10 times more surface time to generate an amount of unused water in
this region than the world average, assuming a given level of water demand [29].
The AWARE characterization factors are available at the sub-watershed level and monthly time
step, globally. The characterization factors values can be aggregated to country or county level and/or
annual time step for use with other data at the respective resolutions. Rather than using country or
province average values, we therefore derived the AWARE characterization factors at the Saskatchewan
census division level to be consistent with the crop production data that is also available at this
geographic resolution (Table 4). Since some divisions are drier and water scarce than others, using
spatially explicit characterization factors will result in more accurate results.
To this end, the Saskatchewan census divisions’ boundary shape files were overlaid with
the AWARE characterization factor shape files that provide one characterization factor for each
sub-watershed globally. The AWARE characterization factor for a particular division was then
calculated by taking the area-weighted average of characterization factors for all sub-watershed
occurring in that division. All calculations were performed in Google Earth online.
Table 5shows the calculated AWARE characterization factors per census division of Saskatchewan
along with the production-weighted average water scarcity (AWARE) footprint for Saskatchewan beef,
which came out to be 21.34 m3world eq./m3.
Table 5.
Summary of cattle production and water scarcity footprint of beef in each census division
of Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan Census
Total Cattle Production
(in Numbers of Cow) AWARE CF Production ×CF
1 72,500 3.12 226,200
2 81,900 13.4245 1,099,466
3 92,500 75.705 7,002,712
4 115,000 41.0785 4,724,027
5 75,000 3.12 234,000
6 81,900 3.12 255,528
7 85,000 41.736 3,547,560
8 70,000 35.9015 2,513,105
9 42,500 3.12 132,600
10 30,000 3.265 97,950
11 60,000 4.028 241,680
12 42,500 33.767 1,435,097
13 47,500 20.26 962,350
14 32,500 7.033 228,572
15 37,500 6.02 225,750
16 60,000 6.974 418,440
17 97,500 6.5447 638,108
18 0 5.559 0
P=1,123,800 P=23,983,148
Weighted average water scarcity (AWARE) footprint for Saskatchewan beef (m3
world eq./m3)23,983,148–1,123,800 =21.34
Cow production data taken from Statistics Canada [46].
Using a similar approach and the census division-specific production statistics of lentils from
Table 4, the average water scarcity (AWARE) footprint for Saskatchewan lentils was calculated as
0.01 m
world eq./m
. However, since the water used in irrigation of lentils comes from Lake
Diefenbaker which falls under the watershed with AWARE characterization factor as 6.02 m
, this characterization factor was used to multiply the bluewater footprints of lentils to get their
water scarcity footprints.
Sustainability 2020,12, 6712 10 of 18
2.7. Biodiversity Impact Assessment
To translate the land footprint into impacts on biodiversity, the ecoregion-specific characterization
factor values provided by Chaudhary & Brooks [
] were used. These characterization factors give the
potential species extinctions (mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and plants combined) due to per
of cropland and other land uses in each of the 804 terrestrial ecoregions of the world and were
calculated through the countryside species-area relationship model (cSAR) [30].
The characterization factors take into account the number of species within a region per unit
area (higher species density means higher projected impact due to human land use), the anity of all
species present in the region to dierent land use types (higher anity means species can survive in
human land uses and thus lower species loss) and the current extent of human encroachment of the
natural habitat of all species within the region (higher encroachment means higher projected loss) [
Similar to the AWARE model for assessing water scarcity footprint of products and processes,
the above characterization factors have been recommended as “best practice” for assessing the
biodiversity footprint of products and processes within life cycle assessment (LCA) studies by the land
use working group of the UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative [
]. The methodology to calculate the
biodiversity characterization factors is described below.
The characterization factors are derived using the cSAR model for each ecoregion jand for five
dierent human land uses (cropland, pasture, urban, plantations, and managed forests) (Equation (2)).
The characterization factors are provided separately for three levels of management intensity (light,
medium, and intense) for each land use type as more intense use implies higher impact on biodiversity
of the region. See the supplementary Table S1 of Chaudhary & Brooks [
] for definitions of light,
medium, and intense use cropland.
In the first step, the total number of species of taxon g(mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles,
and plants) projected to go extinct (
) due to human land use in each ecoregion jare calculated
using the cSAR model [30]:
is the total number of species occurring in each ecoregion’s area (
) before any human
is the remaining natural habitat area in the ecoregion currently (in m
is the
current area of land use type
=1:16) in m
is the SAR exponent for the ecoregion, and
is the
anity of the taxon gto the land use type
in ecoregion j. See Chaudhary & Brooks [
] for full details
on the model.
The model above provides projected extinctions from a particular ecoregion only, but it might be
that species occur elsewhere. In order to translate it into global extinctions, in step 2, the projected
regional extinctions from Equation (5) are multiplied with a vulnerability score (0 <VS
<1) that
takes into account the proportion of all species’ global habitat range occurring within that ecoregion
and the current International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) threat status of all species in
that ecoregion. In other words, the VS accounts for the endemicity and threat status of species hosted
by a region. A VS equal to one implies that all species in the region are endemic to it and are threatened
with extinction according to IUCN Red List [47].
Sustainability 2020,12, 6712 11 of 18
In the third and final step, the total projected species loss in each ecoregion calculated through
Equation (6) (
) is allocated to each individual land use type based on their area share and the
taxon anity to them through an allocation factor ai,jsuch that 0 <ai,j<1 and 16
When the allocated species loss for a particular taxon gEquation (6) is divided by the area of that
land use type (
), it provides the characterization factors reflecting projected species loss due to
1 m2of land use in ecoregion j.
The updated characterization factors of Chaudhary & Brooks [
] were used to compare the
biodiversity impact of traditional and reformulated beef burger patties’ life cycle. Canada has
over 50 terrestrial ecoregions diering largely in terms of species richness per unit area, amount of
remaining natural habitat, and the intensity of human land uses. Therefore, using a country-average
characterization factor might under or overestimate the impact of crop production on biodiversity.
Similar to water scarcity characterization factors, the census division-specific characterization
factors were derived by taking the area-weighted average of characterization factors for all ecoregions
occurring in that division. These characterization factors were divided by the yield of lentils in each
division to get the characterization factors in the unit–potential species loss per kg of dry lentils grown
in the division. The calculated biodiversity characterization factors for lentils per census division for
five taxa-mammals, birds, amphibians, plants, and taxa-aggregated characterization factors are shown
in Table 6. Similar to lentil (crop land use), the biodiversity characterization factors for pasture land
use in each of the census division of Saskatchewan were calculated (see Table 7).
Table 6.
Characterization factors (in potential species loss per kg
) for assessing the biodiversity
footprint of lentils grown in dierent census divisions of Saskatchewan, Canada. The characterization
factors are zero for census divisions 5, 14, and 18 because the lentil production in these divisions is
zero. The aggregated characterization factors are in the unit–potentially disappeared fraction (PDF) per
kg ×1012. See Chaudhary & Brooks [30] for details.
1 4.25 11.6 0.857 0.375 39.6 0.127
2 10.7 23.4 1.82 1.12 64.3 0.268
3 12 20.9 1.58 1.18 30.3 0.25
4 12.4 23.6 1.81 1.25 47 0.277
5 0 0 0 0 0 0
6 4.87 13.2 0.992 0.454 46 0.145
7 8.88 17.3 1.33 0.902 36.8 0.202
8 9.28 16.5 1.25 0.922 25.6 0.197
9 4.75 12.7 0.845 0.215 29.7 0.137
10 3.48 9.46 0.644 0.233 28.1 0.103
11 5.00 13.8 1.09 0.546 52.5 0.151
12 4.59 11.9 0.931 0.482 42.1 0.132
13 5.33 12.3 0.93 0.524 35 0.138
14 0 0 0 0 0 0
15 2.99 8.02 0.545 0.166 21 0.0867
16 2.61 6.92 0.465 0.102 14.6 0.0744
17 3.10 8.17 0.551 0.109 16.1 0.0877
18 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sustainability 2020,12, 6712 12 of 18
Table 7.
Characterization factors (in potential species loss per kg
) for assessing the
biodiversity footprint of beef grown in dierent census divisions of Saskatchewan province of Canada.
The aggregated characterization factors are in the unit–potentially disappeared fraction (PDF) per
kg ×1012.
10.69 1.88 0.14 0.06 5.85 0.02
21.14 2.48 0.19 0.11 6.24 0.03
31.46 2.56 0.19 0.13 3.37 0.03
41.33 2.53 0.19 0.12 4.59 0.03
50.54 1.45 0.09 0.03 3.68 0.02
60.73 1.98 0.15 0.06 6.27 0.02
71.30 2.52 0.19 0.12 4.89 0.03
81.44 2.55 0.19 0.13 3.61 0.03
90.55 1.49 0.10 0.02 3.13 0.02
10 0.57 1.56 0.11 0.04 4.24 0.02
11 0.86 2.35 0.18 0.09 8.18 0.03
12 0.88 2.29 0.18 0.08 7.36 0.03
13 0.97 2.21 0.17 0.09 5.78 0.02
14 0.56 1.52 0.10 0.02 2.58 0.02
15 0.57 1.55 0.10 0.03 3.66 0.02
16 0.55 1.51 0.10 0.02 2.83 0.02
17 0.56 1.52 0.10 0.02 2.64 0.02
18 0.46 1.44 0.08 0.0004 0.79 0.01
Out of a total of 7.55649 million hectares of land devoted to cattle production in Saskatchewan,
88% is for grazing (pasture) and 12% is for growing cattle feed crops (see Figure 3.5 on page 109
of report by CRSB [
]). For calculating the characterization factors per kg beef, the area-weighted
average of crop and pasture characterization factors for each census division were taken. Finally,
the production-weighted characterization factors for Saskatchewan province were calculated for each
taxa for use in biodiversity assessment of a typical beef burger patty (see Table 8).
Table 8.
Production-weighted average characterization factors (CFs in potential species loss per
kg ×1012
) for assessing the biodiversity footprint of beef and lentils in Saskatchewan province of
Canada. The taxa aggregated characterization factors are in the unit—potentially disappeared fraction
(PDF) per kg
. These characterization factors were multiplied by amounts of lentil, wheat,
and beef in the products to calculate the biodiversity footprint of traditional and reformulated foods.
Taxon Biodiversity CFs Lentils (PLS/Kg) Biodiversity CFs Beef (PLS/Kg)
Mammals 8.05 182.71
Birds 16.44 407.39
Amphibians 1.26 29.90
Reptiles 0.81 14.86
Plants 38.33 912.21
Taxa aggregated
0.19 4.59
3. Results
3.1. Nutritional Quality Comparison of Traditional and Reformulated Beef Burgers
It is clear from Table 2that the amounts of essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, folate,
thiamin, vitamins A, C, and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and selenium
are much higher in lentils compared with beef. On the other hand, the amounts of calories, protein,
niacin, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, B12, D, E, and choline are higher in the beef than lentils. Importantly,
the amounts of nutrients of health concern such as sodium, fat, and cholesterol are several times higher
Sustainability 2020,12, 6712 13 of 18
in beef than lentils. Also, the amounts of essential nutrients in lean beef are in general higher than
regular beef.
Table 9shows that replacing a portion of beef with lentils improves the nutrient density (measured
through nutrient balance score, NBS [
], Equation (3)) by >20% compared with traditional beef burger.
Highest NBS of 64 is for lean beef burger reformulated with cooked lentil puree while the lowest NBS
of 46 is for regular beef burger.
Table 9.
Nutrient balance score (NBS [
], Equation (3)) for traditional and lentil reformulated
beef burgers.
Type of Burger (One Serving =115 g) Nutrient Balance Score
Regular beef burger 45.62
Regular beef burger with lentil puree 56.18
Lean beef burger 54.77
Lean beef burger with lentil puree 63.86
In terms of individual nutrients, replacing regular beef with cooked lentils increased the amount
of 21 out of 27 essential nutrients considered while the amount of six essential nutrients were similar
in both traditional and reformulated burgers. In particular, the reformulated burger has 60
dietary fiber, three times higher total folate, five times higher manganese, and 1.6 times higher selenium
than a regular beef burger.
The amounts of disqualifying nutrients (fat, trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol) in lentil
reformulated burger were ~17% less than the regular beef burger while the amounts of sugar and
sodium in regular and reformulated burgers were almost at the same level. The results therefore
show that beef burgers reformulated with cooked lentils are much more nutrient dense than regular
beef burgers.
3.2. Environmental Characterization Factors for Ingredients of Beef Burgers
Table 10 presents the carbon, bluewater, water scarcity, land use, and biodiversity characterization
factors (CFs per kg) of dry lentils, cooked lentils, and boneless beef produced in Saskatchewan province
of western Canada. It can be seen that the biodiversity footprint of 1 kg boneless beef is 32
than that of 1 kg of cooked lentils. The land used to produce 1 kg of boneless beef is ~40
higher than
land used to produce 1 kg of cooked lentils.
Table 10.
Environmental characterization factors (CFs) of ingredients (per kg) used to make the
traditional and reformulated beef burgers. Biodiversity footprint is in taxa-aggregated potentially
disappeared fraction (PDF).
Product Greenhouse Gas (kg
CO2eq.) Bluewater (L) Water Scarcity
(m3World eq.) Land (m2)Biodiversity
Dry lentils at farm, 1 kg 0.1156 0.67 4.033 6.6736 1.90 ×1013
Lentils, cooked, 1 kg 0.283 0.29 1.734 2.8691 1.43 ×1013
Boneless beef at packers
end gate, 1 kg 24.5 508.30 10847 196.4 4.59 ×1012
For the beef production, the farming or animal production stage contributed to 92–95% of total
GHG, water, and land use impacts, while the transportation and packing stage contributed 3–5% and
1–2% of the total footprint respectively (see CRSB report [
] for full LCA). In contrast, the cooking
stage contributed almost 100% to the total carbon footprint of cooked lentils while the lentil cultivation
stage contributed almost no GHG emissions (see report hosted by Canadian roundtable for sustainable
crops [
]. Also, in contrast with beef, the blue water footprint of the cultivation stage of lentil
production is almost zero because the majority of lentils are rain-fed in Saskatchewan.
Sustainability 2020,12, 6712 14 of 18
These characterization factors from Table 10 were multiplied with amounts of each ingredients in
each product (see Table 1) to get the final environmental footprint of burgers presented in Table 11.
The footprints of other burger ingredients such as black pepper and salt are negligible due to very
small amounts used and thus were not considered here.
Table 11.
Environmental footprints one serving (115g) of traditional and lentil reformulated beef
burgers. Biodiversity footprint is in taxa-aggregated potentially disappeared fraction (PDF).
Type of Burger (One
Serving =115 g)
Greenhouse Gas
(Kg CO2eq.) Bluewater (L) Water Scarcity
(m3World eq.) Land (m2)Biodiversity
Regular beef burger
with lentil puree 1.87 38.59 823 14.98 3.53 ×1013
Regular beef burger 2.79 57.83 1234 22.34 5.22 ×1013
% reduction 33.03 33.31 33.33 32.95 32.50
3.3. Environmental Footprint Comparison of Traditional and Reformulated Beef Burgers
Table 11 presents the per serving environmental footprint comparison of traditional and lentil
reformulated beef burgers. It can be seen that the environmental footprints reduce by ~33% when the
beef burgers are reformulated with cooked lentils.
4. Discussion
Results from this study demonstrate that 33% replacement of ground beef with cooked lentil
puree can decrease the environmental footprint by ~33% and concurrently increase the nutritional
density (nutrient balance score) of beef burgers by ~20%. These results contribute to the growing body
of scientific evidence on the potential for pulses to improve the nutritional and environmental profile
of individual foods, diets, and national food systems [1,4,7].
Although the calorie and protein content per unit weight is higher for beef (Table 2), the overall
nutrient density is higher for lentil reformulated burger than regular beef burger (Table 9). The increase
in nutrient density is primarily due to much higher levels of dietary fiber, manganese, and selenium in
lentils than in beef. Thus, our analysis shows the importance of considering all essential nutrients when
comparing the nutritional implications of dietary change or food substitutions. Focusing solely on
calories or protein can provide misleading results with negative consequences on nutritional security
of the region.
The major strength of this environmental footprint analysis is that rather than using site-generic or
globally/country averaged emission factors from dierent databases, we used Saskatchewan-specific
datasets for lentil and beef production. For example, as shown in Table 5, the country-average AWARE
characterization factor for water scarcity in Canada is 6.578 m
world eq./m
], which is almost three
times less than the average characterization factor for Saskatchewan beef (21.34 m
world eq./m
This is because Saskatchewan is drier than the majority of other regions in Canada. Even within the
province of Saskatchewan, the water scarcity characterization factors varied over 20 times from 3.12 m
world eq./m
in divisions 1, 5, 6, and 9 to 75.7 m
world eq./m
in division 3. The bluewater footprint
of Saskatchewan lentils is almost zero (Table 4) because they are produced through rain-fed agriculture.
This is in striking contrast with the global average bluewater footprint of lentils which is 489 L/kg
according to Mekonnen & Hoekstra [10].
Similarly, the biodiversity characterization factors also vary considerably across Canada, and using
a country-average value is not appropriate. Even within the Saskatchewan province, the biodiversity
characterization factors vary by a factor of two across the 18 census divisions (Table 7). Regarding our
carbon footprint analysis, we relied on a report that takes into account the positive eect of Western
Canadian cropping practices (reduced tillage and reduced summer fallow) on soil organic carbon
(SOC) which is often absent in other parts of the world. This shows the importance of including
all stages when carrying out LCA of food products. Even without accounting for SOC eects, the
carbon footprint of 1 kg lentils in Saskatchewan is 0.2152 kg CO
eq. which is about five times lower
Sustainability 2020,12, 6712 15 of 18
than the world average value provided in other studies [
]. Compared to beef produced in the USA,
the environmental footprints of Canadian beef are much lower. For example, Rotz et al. [
] found
that the carbon and water depletion footprint of US beef to be 29.1 kg CO
eq. and 2221 litres per
kg of bone-free beef meat at packers’ end gate. The corresponding values for Canadian beef are
24.5 kg CO
eq. and 508 L per kg. This demonstrates the importance of working with high geographic
resolution and site-specific values when conducting the environmental footprint analysis of food
products. Using country or global average values from existing meta-analysis or literature can lead to
misleading results in the case of food products’ environmental footprints [9].
Nutritional and environmental benefits of lentil reformulated burger might not be sucient
for its widespread adoption because cost is perceived as a major factor for many consumers [
However, the price of lean ground beef and raw lentils in Canada is 5.79 US$ per kg and 3.41 US$ per
kg respectively, meaning that the cost per serving (115 g) of regular and reformulated beef burgers is
0.65$ and 0.48$ respectively. Therefore, the lentil reformulated burger is 26% cheaper than regular beef
burger. Partial replacement of beef with lentils in a burger demonstrates a win-win scenario for all
three dimensions (nutrition, environment, and economics) of sustainability.
One of the limitations of our biodiversity analysis is that our characterization factors reflect the
negative impact of conversion of native forests or grasslands to agriculture and pasture land use on
plants and terrestrial vertebrates (mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles) only and do not take
into account the impact on other species groups such as invertebrates, soil bacteria, fungi, etc. This is
because the underlying data to calculate the characterization factor for invertebrates, soil bacteria,
and fungi are not available yet through the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) [
In addition, a method adapted to Canadian agro-ecosystems and considering multiple species groups
may better reflect the dierences in biodiversity impact between pasture and cultivated crops [
Impact on other indicators of biodiversity such as evolutionary history loss should also be studied [
Regardless, since the objective was to calculate the relative impact of regular and lentil-reformulated
burger, the selected biodiversity characterization factors are able to achieve this.
Since the environmental impacts calculated or compiled here for Saskatchewan were so dierent
than national or world average values, future studies should carry out similar comparisons of regular
and reformulated beef burgers based on data from other major beef and lentil producing regions and
production systems. Using beef and lentil production data from other regions might change the relative
dierence in environmental impacts of the two burgers as calculated here using Saskatchewan-specific
values. In this study, five indicators of environmental impact are calculated but it should be expanded
in future to also include other indicators such as human toxicity, air, water pollution, or impact on
ecosystem services. A widespread adoption of lentil reformulated burger would entail cutting down
on production of beef and increasing the production of lentils worldwide. A global scale feasibility
study is therefore needed that can also model the consequences of such a production shift on social,
environmental, and economic dimensions of sustainability. Instead of lentils, future studies might also
explore the sustainability implications of incorporating other plant-based foods in beef burgers.
5. Conclusions
Overall, our analysis demonstrates the potential of food innovation and reformulation of existing
recipes to contribute towards multiple sustainable development goals and complement other eorts
such as reducing food waste [
], dietary behaviour change [
], and others [
]. Our multi-dimensional
quantitative sustainability analysis can provide a template for future studies looking at benefits of
partial or full substitution of animal sourced food products with plant-based products in dierent
regions of the world. To conclude, inclusion of higher amounts of pulses in traditional meat-based
products could bring substantial environmental advantages and a more nutritionally balanced diet
without jeopardizing the aordability or nutrient composition.
Author Contributions:
A.C. and D.T. contributed to the study design, data analysis, interpretation, and writing
of the manuscript. Both authors critically reviewed the manuscript for intellectual content. Conceptualization,
Sustainability 2020,12, 6712 16 of 18
A.C. and D.T.; methodology, A.C. and D.T.; software, A.C.; validation, A.C. and D.T.; formal analysis, A.C.;
investigation, A.C. and D.T.; resources, A.C. and D.T.; data curation, A.C. and D.T.; writing—original draft
preparation, A.C.; writing—review and editing, A.C. and D.T.; visualization, A.C.; supervision, A.C. and D.T.;
project administration, A.C. and D.T.; funding acquisition, A.C. and D.T. All authors have read and agreed to the
published version of the manuscript.
The present study was funded by Pulse Canada. A.C. acknowledges funding from the Initiation Grant
of IIT Kanpur, India (project number 2018386). D.T. acknowledges funding from the Canadian Agricultural
Partnership from the Government of Canada.
Conflicts of Interest: D.T. is an employee of Pulse Canada. A.C. declares no conflict of interest.
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... In 2019, global anthropogenic emissions equated to 54 billion metric tonnes of CO 2 equivalents, of which 31% (16.5 billion metric tonnes) derived from agri-food systems (Tubiello et al., 2021). Moreover, livestock production, a large component of the agricultural sector, is associated with approximately 14.5%-18% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions (Chaudhary and Tremorin, 2020;Farchi et al., 2017;Mogensen et al., 2020;Ridoutt et al., 2021;Seves et al., 2017). The global population is predicted to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 (FAO, 2016) from the current 8 billion people (UN, 2022), thus placing significant added pressure on existing food systems (Chaudhary and Tremorin, 2020;Clark and Tilman, 2017;Mertens et al., 2020). ...
... Moreover, livestock production, a large component of the agricultural sector, is associated with approximately 14.5%-18% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions (Chaudhary and Tremorin, 2020;Farchi et al., 2017;Mogensen et al., 2020;Ridoutt et al., 2021;Seves et al., 2017). The global population is predicted to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 (FAO, 2016) from the current 8 billion people (UN, 2022), thus placing significant added pressure on existing food systems (Chaudhary and Tremorin, 2020;Clark and Tilman, 2017;Mertens et al., 2020). Over the same period (i.e.,2020-2050), global dietary patterns are expected to increasingly shift towards animal-derived produce, with meat and milk consumption predicted to increase by 73% and 58%, respectively (FAO, 2011). ...
... Specific dietary patterns have been associated with high agricultural emissions, particularly the omnivorous ''Western'' diet which is prevalent in North America and Europe and is characterised by high consumption of animal-based products and an excess of daily recommended caloric intake (Azzam, 2021;Westhoek et al., 2014). This diet is reported as being environmentally unsustainable and associated with obesity (Candy et al., 2019;Chaudhary and Tremorin, 2020). However, high-income countries could potentially significantly reduce GHG emissions by transitioning dietary patterns (Candy et al., 2019;Chaudhary and Tremorin, 2020;Springmann et al., 2018). ...
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Dietary patterns are inherently related to greenhouse (GHG) emissions via agricultural practices and foodproduction systems. As the global population is predicted to increase from 8 billion (current) to 9.6 billion by2050 added pressure will be placed on existing agricultural systems, resulting in increased GHG emissions thusexacerbating climate change. Therefore, there is an urgent need to understand present-day dietary patterns toshift to sustainable and healthy diets to mitigate GHG emissions and meet future climate targets. However, noreview or pooled analyses of dietary pattern emissions from a farm-to-fork perspective has been undertaken todate. The current study sought to i) identify the current dietary habits within high-income regions from 2009to 2020 and ii) quantify the GHG emissions associated with these dietary patterns via a global systematisedreview and pooled analysis. Twenty-three peer-reviewed studies were identified through online bibliographicdatabases. Dietary patterns are being examined based on fixed inclusion/exclusion criteria. Five dietarypatterns were identified in the review with their mean GHG emissions: high-protein diets (5.71 CO2eq kgperson−1 day−1), omnivorous diet (4.83 CO2eq kg person−1 day−1), lacto-ovo-vegetarian/pescatarian diet (3.86CO2eq kg person−1 day−1), recommended diet (3.68 CO2eq kg person−1 day−1), and the vegan diet (2.34CO2eq kg person−1 day−1). The lacto-ovo-vegetarian/pescatarian diet was associated with significantly loweremissions than both the omnivorous and high-protein dietary patterns, with -22% and -41% GHG emissions,respectively. The high-protein dietary pattern exhibited significantly higher GHG emissions than other dietarypatterns. Geographically, significant statistical differences (p = 0.001) were only reported for the omnivorousdiet between North America and Europe. Findings reveal that GHG emissions vary based on dietary patternsand have the potential to be reduced by shifting dietary patterns, which benefits the environment by lesseningone of the drivers of climate change.
... The environmental benefits of plant-based diet meals have been studied by many authors [71,[77][78][79]. Changing to healthy diets with reduced meat consumption has significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. ...
... Plant-based food or feed innovation is focused mainly on developing new products, such as meat substitutes [79,81,82], cultured meat [83], plant-based drinks [84] and new food ingredients [85]. ...
... The potential for food innovation and reformulation of existing recipes will contribute to multiple sustainable development goals, reduce food waste and change dietary behavior. The partial replacement of a lean beef burger with cooked lentil puree increased the dietary fiber content 60 times, the total folate content 3 times, the manganese content 5 times and the selenium content 1.6 times compared to an all-beef burger [79]. ...
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Plants maintain the ecological equilibrium of the earth and stabilize the ecosystem. Today, traditional commodities and new value-added markets can be served simultaneously. There is significant biosource and bioprocess innovation for biobased industrial products. Furthermore, plant-based innovation is associated with the transition to sustainability. This study performed a bibliometric and in-depth content analysis to review plant-based innovations in the research field between 1995 and 2022. A set of 313 articles was identified from the Scopus and Web of Science databases. Different analytical scientometric tools (topic mapping and overlay visualization networks) were used to analyze 124 articles; the most influential countries, institutions, authors, journals and articles were identified. Through in-depth studies, based on the grounded theory approach, five leading research areas related to plant-based innovation were determined: (1) agricultural/environmental innovation, (2) plant-based food or feed innovation, (3) innovation within the medical/pharmaceutical research area, (4) technology-related innovation and (5) economic/business aspects of plant-based innovations. Future research directions include exploring less examined and new topics, such as the sustainability implications of incorporating various plant-based foods and Industry 4.0 in plant-based innovation, and linking and developing findings from different research areas.
... Aiming to reduce emissions. The negative impacts of activities throughout the production chain must be done in cooperation with suppliers and other business partners [84,85]. Determining the CF of a specific technology and, based on this, carrying out actions to reduce GHG emissions is a conscious reduction of emissions contributing to environmental protection. ...
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Nowadays, a noticeable trend in society is the search for more and more healthy food products. This is also reflected in the interest in plant-based ingredients replacing animal ones, which are more caloric, difficult to digest, and have more negative environmental impact. The purpose of this study was to determine the carbon footprint (CF) of technological process of ice cream, made with traditional ingredients as well as with fat and sugar substitute ingredients, under laboratory and handcraft conditions. Process-line portable metering was designed and implemented. Emission and production data were recorded for different ice blends; at a laboratory-scale, the determined technological process, CFtech, of traditional ice cream was 0.360 and for ice cream with substitutes 0.385 kg CO2/kg product. The pasteurization process accounted for the largest share in CFtech of ice cream with different contents of substitutes. Under handicraft conditions, the CFtech of traditional ice cream as well as ice cream with fat and sugar substitutes were 0.253 and 0.248 kg CO2/kg product, respectively. In contrast, for standard a handcraft, CF was the lowest at 0.234 kg CO2/kg product. CFtech of laboratory-scale ice cream production is larger than for handcraft production. Pasteurization along with homogenization and ripening accounted for the largest share of CO2 emissions.
... Although it has been demonstrated that livestock produces around 14.5% of all human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, both developing and developed countries continue to consume large amounts of energy-rich meals, which include meat, milk, and other dairy products (Weinrich, 2019). By 2050, it is predicted that 9 billion people will be eating plant-based protein, which has the potential to not only significantly lessen the severely negative environmental effects of meat consumption but also provide a source of good and nutritious meals for those individuals (Chaudhary & Tremorin, 2020;Monnet et al., 2019;Willett et al., 2019). Few legumes and oilseeds have been widely used in this area to produce nondairy, healthy, affordable plant-based milk alternatives (Sethi et al., 2016). ...
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This study aimed to produce plant-based yoghurt analogues from the blends of Bambaranut and millet milk. Yoghurt samples were produced from blends of Bambaranut milk and millet milk using Streptococcus thermophillus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus as starter cultures. Yoghurt samples were subjected to chemical, microbiological and organoleptic assessment. The results of the chemical analysis revealed moisture, protein, ash, fat, fibre, carbohydrates and energy contents ranged from 87.61-78.26%, 6.85-3.68%, 0.76-0.59%, 2.70-1.81%, 0.34-0.26%,12.88- 5.60 and 92.94-57.50% respectively Total solids of between 12.39 and 21.74% were obtained with titratable acidity of 0.21, 0.65, 0.21, 0.23, 0.23, 0.25, 0.30 and 0.90%, respectively. The syneresis of the samples ranged from 40.28 to 18.90% while all the samples showed fairly acidic levels. A viscosity of between 250 and 784cp was obtained. The microbiological examination revealed an acceptable level for all the samples. There were observable significant differences in terms of overall acceptability, taste, and flavour between cow milk yoghurt and the yoghurt analogues.
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Gluten-free (GF) diets often become nutritionally imbalanced, being low in proteins and fibers and high in sugars. Preparing GF foods with improved nutritional value is therefore a key challenge. This study investigates the impact of different combinations of whey protein (11.9%), inulin (6.0%) as dietary fiber, and xylitol (27.9%) as a sweetener used in the enrichment of green- and red-lentil-based gluten-free cookies. The cookies were characterized in terms of baking loss, geometric parameters, color, texture, and sensory profile. The results showed that these functional ingredients had different impacts on the lentil cookies made of different (green/red) lentils, especially regarding the effect of fiber and xylitol on the volume (green lentil cookies enriched with fiber: 16.5 cm3, sweetened with xylitol: 10.9 cm3 vs. 21.2 cm3 for control; red lentil cookies enriched with fiber: 21.9 cm3, sweetened with xylitol: 21.1 cm3 vs. 21.8 cm3 for control) and color (e.g., b* for green lentil cookies enriched with fiber: 13.13, sweetened with xylitol: 8.15 vs. 16.24 for control; b* for red lentil cookies enriched with fiber: 26.09, sweetened with xylitol: 32.29 vs. 28.17 for control). Regarding the textural attributes, the same tendencies were observed for both lentil products, i.e., softer cookies were obtained upon xylitol and whey protein addition, while hardness increased upon inulin enrichment. Stickiness was differently influenced by the functional ingredients in the case of green and red lentil cookies, but all the xylitol-containing cookies were less crumbly than the controls. The interactions of the functional ingredients were revealed in terms of all the properties investigated. Sensory analysis showed that the addition of whey protein resulted in less intensive “lentil” and “baked” aromas (mostly for red lentil cookies), and replacement of sugar by xylitol resulted in crumblier and less hard and crunchier products. The application of different functional ingredients in the enrichment of lentil-based gluten-free cookies revealed several interactions. These findings could serve as a starting point for future research and development of functional GF products.
Microwave-assisted infrared is an emerging green technology that can be used in the thermal processing of lentils to modify their functional and nutritional properties as high-value plant-based protein ingredients. The study employed this technology to heat lentil seeds tempered to three higher moisture contents to produce modified flours. The influence of thermal process conditions on the starch structure was evaluated by reducing the degree of order through gelatinization, and the protein structure was assessed through denaturation, which led to the decline in the ordered structure of protein, β-band and α-helix, and the rise in the aggregated intermolecular structure, β-I, and unordered structure, random coil. Results showed that seeds tempered to the highest moisture content, 50%, and processed in higher thermal intensities, by the rise in microwave power and infrared combinations, experienced a higher degree of starch gelatinization and protein denaturation, improving the water holding capacity while reducing protein solubility. Particle size distributions and scanning electron microscopy analyses illustrated that thermal treatment eased the milling process in breaking down coarse particles. The modification process was also an effective way to improve nutritional properties by increasing in vitro starch and protein digestibility.
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Beef production is a major driver of biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions globally, and multiple studies recommend reducing beef production and consumption. Although there have been significant efforts from the biodiversity conservation sector toward reducing beef‐production impacts, there has been comparatively much less engagement in reducing beef consumption. As a first step to address this gap and identify leverage points, we conducted a policy Delphi expert elicitation. We asked 16 multidisciplinary experts from research and practitioner backgrounds to propose interventions for reducing beef consumption in the United States. Experts generated and critiqued 20 interventions, creating a qualitative dataset that was thematically analyzed to allow the interventions to be prioritized. Effective, feasible interventions included changing perceived social norms, targeting food providers, and increasing the availability and quality of beef alternatives. This work introduces a conservation research agenda for reducing beef consumption and explores a structured process for prioritizing behavioral interventions.
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A tiered hybrid input–output-based life cycle assessment (LCA) was conducted to analyze potential environmental impacts associated with current US food consumption patterns and the recommended USDA food consumption patterns. The greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) in the current consumption pattern (CFP 2547 kcal) and the USDA recommended food consumption pattern (RFP 2000 kcal) were 8.80 and 9.61 tons CO2-eq per household per year, respectively. Unlike adopting a vegetarian diet (i.e., RFP 2000 kcal veg or RFP 2600 kcal veg), adoption of a RFP 2000 kcal diet has a probability of increasing GHGEs and other environmental impacts under iso-caloric analysis. The bigger environmental impacts of non-vegetarian RFP scenarios were largely attributable to supply chain activities and food losses at retail and consumer levels. However, the RFP 2000 vegetarian diet showed a significant reduction in the environmental impacts (e.g., GHGEs were 22% lower than CFP 2547). Uncertainty analysis confirmed that the RFP 2600 scenario (mean of 11.2; range 10.3–12.4 tons CO2-eq per household per year) is higher than CFP 2547 (mean of 8.81; range 7.89–9.95 tons CO2-eq per household per year) with 95% confidence. The outcomes highlight the importance of incorporating environmental sustainability into dietary guidelines through the entire life cycle of the food system with a full accounting of the effects of food loss/waste.
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The growing demand for meat and animal products in emerging economies has become a concern given its environmental and health impacts. The sustainable diets approach has emerged to address the multidimensional challenge of reaching a context-based diet that minimizes negative environmental impacts, provides health and nutrition to all segments of the population, and is affordable and coherent with the local culture and traditions. The aim of this study was to explore the prospects for meat consumption reduction and challenges encompassing the environmental, and health spheres. In order to do so, we analyzed: (1) The current carbon and water per capita footprints for two animal-based options and two plant-based options; and (2) the contribution of each food alternative to the local dietary reference intakes based on average per capita daily consumption and significant differences among the nutrient values for each food alternative through a two proportion Z-test. Our results show that the annual per capita carbon and water footprints for beef were higher compared to other alternatives, despite a higher per capita consumption of chicken. Also, our findings reveal that the average consumption of beef and chicken contributes 39% of the maximum recommended daily intake for cholesterol and 61% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein in the country. Finally, relevant promoting forces and barriers related to meat consumption reduction were identified based on the two dimensions evaluated. This study calls for a joint effort to make changes in public policy, food systems, and consumer education.
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Summary Background The EAT–Lancet Commission drew on all available nutritional and environmental evidence to construct the first global benchmark diet capable of sustaining health and protecting the planet, but it did not assess dietary affordability. We used food price and household income data to estimate affordability of EAT–Lancet benchmark diets, as a first step to guiding interventions to improve diets around the world. Methods We obtained retail prices from 2011 for 744 foods in 159 countries, collected under the International Comparison Program. We used these data to identify the most affordable foods to meet EAT–Lancet targets. We compared total diet cost per day to each country's mean per capita household income, calculated the proportion of people for whom the most affordable EAT–Lancet diet exceeds total income, and also measured affordability relative to a least-cost diet that meets essential nutrient requirements. Findings The most affordable EAT–Lancet diets cost a global median of US$2·84 per day (IQR 2·41–3·16) in 2011, of which the largest share was the cost of fruits and vegetables (31·2%), followed by legumes and nuts (18·7%), meat, eggs, and fish (15·2%), and dairy (13·2%). This diet costs a small fraction of average incomes in high-income countries but is not affordable for the world's poor. We estimated that the cost of an EAT–Lancet diet exceeded household per capita income for at least 1·58 billion people. The EAT–Lancet diet is also more expensive than the minimum cost of nutrient adequacy, on average, by a mean factor of 1·60 (IQR 1·41–1·78). Interpretation Current diets differ greatly from EAT–Lancet targets. Improving diets is affordable in many countries but for many people would require some combination of higher income, nutritional assistance, and lower prices. Data and analysis for the cost of healthier foods are needed to inform both local interventions and systemic changes.
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This study attempted to assess the potential of traditional food crops (TFCs) to be ‘future smart foods’ through the lens of sustainability. Our study mainly relied on the primary data collected from farm households (n = 89) in the high mountains of Nepal and the hills of Bangladesh. The study found that farmers are gradually abandoning the cultivation of TFCs. In the last decade, cash crops such as mustard and cardamom in study villages in Nepal (SVN) and fruits and coffee in study villages in Bangladesh (SVB) were adopted to replace TFCs. In overall calorie intake at the household level, TFCs contributed only 3% and 7% respectively, in SVN and SVB. A sustainability analysis showed that TFCs have a huge potential to be ‘future smart foods’ because they are socially acceptable, have high nutritional values (social sustainability), and are key to the agrobiodiversity and resilience of farming systems (environmental sustainability). They also have the potential to improve famers’ income and are more efficient in energy use during production cycles (economic sustainability). To promote TFCs as a sustainable solution for local farming systems and nutrition security, there is the need for a behavior change of both farmers and consumers, respectively, through the favorable policy environment and public awareness.
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This article reviews empirical research on consumers’ adoption of meat substitutes published up to spring 2018. Recent meat substitutes often have sustainable characteristics in line with consumers’ concerns over aspects of healthy food and the environmental impact of food production. However, changing lifestyles with less time for cooking, any transition from a strongly meat-based to a more plant-based diet depends on the successful establishment of convenient meat substitutes. This article reviews the growing body of research on meat substitutes. These research articles were classified into five different stages in line with the innovation-decision process of: knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation and confirmation. The research was analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively, with results suggesting that although health, environmental and animal welfare aspects can persuade consumers and influence their decision to try a meat substitute, the appearance and taste of those meat substitutes are crucial factors for their consumption on a regular basis. However, there still remains a gap in research articles focusing on the regular consumption of meat substitutes.
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Current diets of most nations either do not meet the nutrition recommendations or transgress environmental planetary boundaries or both. Transitioning towards sustainable diets that are nutritionally adequate and low in environmental impact is key in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. However designing region-specific sustainable diets that are culturally acceptable is a formidable challenge. Recent studies have suggested that optimization algorithms offer a potential solution to above challenge but the evidence is mostly based on case-studies from high-income nations using widely varying constraints and algorithms. Here we employ non-linear optimization modeling with a consistent study design to identify diets for 152 countries that meet four cultural acceptability constraints, five food-related per capita environmental planetary boundaries (carbon emissions, water, land, nitrogen and phosphorus use) and the daily-recommended levels for 29 nutrients. Results show that a considerable departure from current dietary behavior is required for all countries. The required changes in intake amounts of 221 food items are highly country-specific but in general point towards a need to reduce the intake of meat, dairy, rice, and sugar and an increase in fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts, and other grains. The constraints for fiber, vitamin-B12, vitamin-E and saturated fats and the planetary boundaries for carbon emissions and nitrogen application were the most difficult to meet, suggesting the need to pay special attention to them. The analysis demonstrates that non-linear optimization is a powerful tool to design diets achieving multiple objectives.
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The environmental impacts of beef cattle production and their effects on the overall sustainability of beef have become a national and international concern. Our objective was to quantify important environmental impacts of beef cattle production in the United States. Surveys and visits of farms, ranches and feedlots were conducted throughout seven regions (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Northern Plains, Southern Plains, Northwest and Southwest) to determine common practices and characteristics of cattle production. These data along with other information sources were used to create about 150 representative production systems throughout the country, which were simulated with the Integrated Farm System Model using local soil and climate data. The simulations quantified the performance and environmental impacts of beef cattle production systems for each region. A farm-gate life cycle assessment was used to quantify resource use and emissions for all production systems including traditional beef breeds and cull animals from the dairy industry. Regional and national totals were determined as the sum of the production system outputs multiplied by the number of cattle represented by each simulated system. The average annual greenhouse gas and reactive N emissions associated with beef cattle production over the past five years were determined to be 243 ± 26 Tg carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) and 1760 ± 136 Gg N, respectively. Total fossil energy use was found to be 569 ± 53 PJ and blue water consumption was 23.2 ± 3.5 TL. Environmental intensities expressed per kg of carcass weight produced were 21.3 ± 2.3 kg CO2e, 155 ± 12 g N, 50.0 ± 4.7 MJ, and 2034 ± 309 L, respectively. These farm-gate values are being combined with post farm-gate sources of packing, processing, distribution, retail, consumption and waste handling to produce a full life cycle assessment of U.S. beef. This study is the most detailed, yet comprehensive, study conducted to date to provide baseline measures for the sustainability of U.S. beef.
Recent reports from the EAT-Lancet Commission and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have highlighted the environmental impacts of food systems and the means of mitigating these impacts in the future. Here, we reflect upon the reports’ findings on the effects of agricultural production on biodiversity and water resources and present essential areas for future research.