Member AUM
$70 trillion
Report Background

This research overview was developed as a collaboration between Suzannah Gerber (Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University) and FAIRR.


The role of animal-sourced foods in a healthy diet and the potential for plant-based alternatives are highly debated topics in nutrition, namely due to their impact on both human and planetary health. The lack of consensus amongst experts and ambiguous marketing of protein alternatives contribute to confusion, making it difficult for investors to identify scientifically backed best practices and opportunities.  

ESG frameworks often overlook nutritional impacts, missing a chance to align investments with health and environmental goals. This document provides key scientific insights into the environmental and social impacts of different protein sources, clarifies common assumptions about their health effects, and identifies trends, risks and opportunities for investors with exposure to the protein supply chain. 

Key Highlights

The findings of this research overview can help investors:

  • Understanding the latest insights on protein requirements, including scientific guidelines for protein intake and the effects of high consumption on human health 

  • Summarizing the latest evidence regarding the nutritional value of various protein sources and the adverse health effects associated with red and processed meats 

  • Learning about the state of the evidence regarding the health outcomes associated with plant foods, plant-based meats, and dairy alternatives 

  • Understanding the intricacies of processed foods, including the pros and cons and the different definitions related to processed and ultra-processed foods  

  • Introducing the role of dietary guidelines, their considerations regarding human health and environmental sustainability, and the associated risks and opportunities for companies producing different protein foods 

  • Summarizing the evidence on how consumers view different sources of proteins and how the demand and consumption varies between high-income and low-income markets 

  • Exploring questions for investors to ask to meat producers, manufacturers, and consumer-facing companies concerning adherence to global health standards, and integration of nutrition priorities into their R&D and overall strategy