Alternative Protein Project

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How might alternative proteins be a part of the solution to environmental, biodiversity, climate change, pandemic, and animal welfare concerns? What even are alternative proteins? How are they made? How does one get a career in this space? This group and seminar programme hopes to help you answer these questions.

This seminar programme is run by EA Cambridge in collaboration with Cellular Agriculture Cambridge. This programme may become a part of a future Cambridge Alternative Protein Project, which is a network of groups in the Good Food Instititute's Alt Protein Project, that aims to provide students and researchers with a community in which to explore alternative protein-related applications of their academic expertise. It also acts as a miniature think tank for a burgeoning field, catapulting its members to the forefront of the alternative protein movement.

To promote this technology within Cambridge, an 8-week seminar programme will be hosted, of which the curriculum can be found below. It will be run from 12 July - 3 Sep. Click on the week titles to see the readings for each week. This seminar programme includes ~2 hours of reading and a 1.5 hour facilitated disucssion per week, and ending with a self-directed capstone project. It serves as a great way to be introduced to the alternative protein community and to learn about this important burgeoning technology.

Apply to this seminar programme here, deadline 13 June 2021.


Week 1: Motivating the case for alternative proteins


What’s the hype around alternative proteins? How does the current agricultural system impact the world? Why might alternative proteins be a viable solution to some of our concerns? What even are those concerns? 


This session is about exploring the dominant arguments in favour of reducing traditional meat consumption, motivating the development of alternative proteins, that are touted as one mechanism by which to bring about a global reduction or eradication of traditional meat


Week 2: Plant-based Meat and Fermentation


What’s the history of plant-based meats? What does fermentation mean? How important is crop optimization for plant-based meat development? How does the public perceive plant-based meats today?


This session is about begninning Being to develop a foundational understanding of plant-based meat and fermentation technologies.


Week 3: Plant-based Meat Production


In this session, we will continue to develop an understanding of plant-based meat production methods. We'll also explore the landscape of plant protein sources for applications in plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy.


Week 4: Cultivated Meat

In this session, we will begin to develop a foundational understanding of cultivated meat technologies, and how these are different to factory farmed and plant-based meat technologies. We'll also explore the challenges associated with cultivated meat technologies, and why they’re not yet mainstream.


Week 5: Cultivated Meat Production

In this session, we'll work to develop a shallow understanding of the main components of cultivated meat production, and how they interact with each other. Participants should end this week with a model of the journey of cells from being a part of an animal to being cultivated meat on people’s plates. The core resources are based on MIT Cellular Agriculture's Cell Ag course.


Week 6: What are the social and political challenges?

How likely are alternative protein technologies to be developed? What might prevent the public from widely consuming alternative proteins if they are successfully developed and become tastier and cheaper than factory farmed meat? What role do governments play in regulating and building the future of this industry?

In this session, we will explore the social and political challenges associated with the production and sales of alternative proteins, primarily focusing on cultivated meat.


Week 7: What does the alternative protein industry currently look like, and where is it going?

Who is actually working in the alternative protein space? Could these actors, and future entrants, become a dominant force in the wider protein industry over the coming few decades?

In this session, we will explore what the alternative protein industry looks like as of 2021 in terms of startups, thinktanks, policy groups and other organisations, as well as consider some forecasts for how the industry could grow.


Week 8: Career opportunities

In this session, we'll begin to consider how one might build a career in this space, contributing to the end of factory farmed meat and the rise of alternative proteins. We'll also explore the range of activities students can pursue to develop beneficial skills and contribute to the development of this industry while at university


Capstone Project