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Meating the Anthropocene: Barriers and opportunities for ‘new sustainable proteins’ in Norway

What will we eat in the Anthropocene? What are the alternatives to unsustainable animal proteins, and how can we make them ‘work’ – for everyone?

With these questions as a starting point, this project investigates the possibilities for sustainable and equitable protein consumption in Norway.

About the project

The aim of this research project is to investigate the household as a site for sustainable and inclusive food system transition. Employing mixed methods with emphasis on qualitative interviews, the project studies how unsustainable proteins in consumers’ diets can be shifted to more sustainable options as part of a broader transition towards sustainable food and protein systems.

Sustainable and equitable food systems are a prerequisite for achieving all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). High rates of animal protein production and consumption is a particularly urgent challenge for social and environmental sustainability. As more resources are being used to tackle this challenge, and technology is rapidly changing the trajectory for food and agriculture, some have predicted a ‘fourth agricultural revolution’.

While critical researchers have long questioned possibilities for reducing animal protein consumption, this project focuses primarily on the possibilities for upscaling innovative protein sources at various stages of development. These notably include:

  • Plant-based analogues
  • Cell-based proteins
  • Insect foods

Research questions

The overarching research questions is: What are the barriers and opportunities for upscaling the consumption of (new) sustainable proteins in Norway?

To answer this question, the project also focuses on how households engage with animal- and plant-based proteins currently figuring in the food system, how they make sense of novel protein foods in light of their existing food practices, and how household consumption is shaped by production and provision of different proteins in the food system.

In so doing, the project develops current knowledge of ‘new sustainable proteins’ in the Norwegian/Nordic context, and adds to the limited scholarship on the ‘social’ aspects of socio-technological sustainability transitions in the food sector. It also seeks to make a valuable contribution to the limited social scientific inquiry into ‘new sustainable protein’ research.


The project is carried out by PhD Fellow Johannes Volden and supervised by Dr. Arve Hansen.


This project is financed by a PhD Fellowship (2021-2025) from the Centre from Development and the Environment, University of Oslo.


The project is associated with ‘Include – research centre for socially inclusive energy transitions’ and the research group ‘Sustainable consumption and energy equity’.

Published May 31, 2021 8:55 AM - Last modified June 11, 2021 11:52 AM