Understanding the protein transition: The rise of plant-based meat substitutes

M. Tziva, S.O. Negro, A. Kalfagianni, M.P. Hekkert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Even though the food system is responsible for a significant part of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and a transition to a sustainable food system is needed, the growing body of literature on sustainability transitions has paid little attention to the food processing sector. We expect transition dynamics in the food processing sector to differ from the typical dynamics portrayed in transitions literature due to particularities in required technological knowledge and government intervention. To better understand dynamics in the food processing sector we apply the Technological Innovations Systems (TIS) framework to an in-depth case study of the plant-based meat substitutes industry in the Netherlands. Results illustrate that, contrary to many other transitions, consumers and changing informal institutions are the driving forces of this process. We show how strengthening cognitive and normative legitimacy can lead to growing markets for sustainable products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-231
JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Technological innovation system
  • Food
  • Users
  • Norms
  • Plant-based proteins
  • Sustainability transtition


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