Sustainable Protein Sources - Chapter 1: Proteins in the Diet: Challenges in Feeding the Global Population

Elsevier, Sustainable Protein Sources, 2017, Pages 1-19.
S.R. Nadathur

Food is essential for sustenance and, in particular, consumption of protein is critical for maintaining our body and various cellular functions. With the projected increase in population growth over the next two to three decades, the concern of feeding 30% more people is on the minds of many, including governments, policymakers, and those involved in agriculture. Producing food (and adequate protein) for the projected 10 billion people by 2050 cannot be the responsibility of the few. Vast amounts of resources are spent in meat production, which has become the major source of protein globally. In order to provide adequate protein in the diet for much of the global populace, a shift in dietary pattern from animal-derived protein to plant-based protein needs to occur soon, especially in the developed economies. We will discuss the need for protein in the diet and its role in food systems, challenges we face in the quest to feed the global population, sources of protein that can be produced in a sustainable manner, and the trends that are shaping changes in people’s dietary patterns. The discussion of this topic has interlinks with scientific, economic, social, and political aspects. The onus is on consumers to play a major role in altering their diet and activities for the greater good of the planet.