THE ECONOMIST: Plant-Based Protein and America’s Food Supply


The Economist reports on the impact that shifting to plant-based protein could have on the American food supply. The full story also includes a graphic showing the opportunity costs of animal versus plant protein sources.

Alon Shepon of the Weizmann Institute and colleagues have looked at this in terms of opportunity costs. Choosing to make a gram of protein by feeding an egg-laying hen, rather than getting the equivalent of a gram of egg protein from plants, has an opportunity cost of 40%. Getting the gram of protein from beef represents an opportunity cost of 96%. They argue that if America stopped paying these opportunity costs and got the protein from plants in the first place, it would be equivalent to increasing the food supply by a third—or eliminating all of the losses due to food waste.

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