Alessandra C. Grasso, Yung Hung, Margreet R. Olthof, Wim Verbeke and Ingeborg A. Brouwer

Nutrients 2019, 11, 1904; doi:10.3390/


Considering today’s environmental challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss, sustainable dietary strategies are needed to meet the high protein requirement of a growing aging population. This study investigated the readiness of older adults to accept the consumption of the following alternative, more sustainable protein sources: plant-based protein, insects, single-cell protein, and in vitro meat. We used data from a survey that was conducted among 1825 older adults aged 65 years or above living in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Finland.

Dairy-based protein was the most accepted protein source among older adults, with 75% of the respondents reporting dairy to be acceptable or very acceptable. When it came to alternative, more sustainable protein sources, 58% of the respondents reported to accept plant-based protein, 20% reported to accept single-cell protein, 9% reported to accept insect-based protein, and 6% reported to accept in vitro meat-based protein. We found that fussy eaters were less likely to accept eating alternative, more sustainable protein sources. Older adults who were more active in sustainable food consumption (e.g. purchases organic food) and who were highly educated were more likely to accept eating alternative, more sustainable sources. Valuing health, sensory appeal, and price when making food choices, as well as gender and country of residence were found to influence acceptance, although not consistently across all the protein sources.

This paper concludes that a relatively high acceptance of plant-based protein sources provides an opportunity to increase protein intake in an environmentally sustainable way in EU older adults. More research is needed to determine ways to increase acceptance of more innovative, technology-driven protein sources such as single-cell protein and in vitro meat among older adults.

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