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13th March 2023  Editorial by: newprotein staff writer

How Sustainable is Your Vegan Burger?

Using an innovative process, Yeastup extracts high-quality ingredients from spent brewer's yeast, a by-product of the brewing process.

Vegan Protein Yeastin® Shows Excellent Sustainability in Life Cycle Assessment

A study at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) recently aimed to evaluate the environmental impact of burger patty production. A patty made with proteins sourced from brewer’s spent yeast (BSY) was compared with conventional beef and a vegan one as benchmarks. The ISO 14040 ff Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) showed that Yeastin® can reduce the environmental footprint of a 113g burger patty by 74–81%, depending on the indicator examined.

The research results of the Institute for Ecopreneurship at the FHNW are impressive: a vegan burger patty made from Yeastin® protein by Yeastup has an even smaller ecological footprint than one made from pea protein. The production of pea protein had the greatest environmental impact on the conventional vegan patty (19–45%), with the meat in the beef patty producing a figure of 84–98%. Compared with the beef patty, the environmental ramifications of the Yeastup alternative were significantly lower across all impact assessment methods — possibly because of the elevated global warming potential (GWP) of beef production.

However, Daniel Gnos, founder of Yeastup AG, sees another huge advantage: “Thanks to the use of an industrial by-product, Yeastin® requires no arable land, no cultivation, no irrigation, and no pesticides. This is a clear ecological benefit over animal and plant sources.”

An Ecologically and Nutritionally Valuable Alternative

Of the environmental footprint of Yeastin®, 56% was attributable to the animal feed substitution that replaces the brewer’s spent yeast in its previous use, which must be taken into account in accordance with the requirements of the general guidelines for the preparation of an ecological footprint (PEF). Compared with the benchmark pea protein, Yeastup protein has an approximately 81% lower environmental impact, 74% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and an 80% lower cumulative energy demand.

Yeastin® has the potential to become a promising alternative to animal and vegetable proteins due to its significantly lower environmental footprint and excellent nutritional properties. It is a high-quality protein powder that convinces in terms of purity and quality and, importantly, has a neutral taste. Furthermore, its excellent nutritional profile matches that of animal proteins. Protein formulations containing Yeastin® also showed promising functional properties in initial laboratory scale trials. There are numerous application possibilities, too, from meat substitutes and cheese alternatives to sports nutrition products.

Gnos believes his team is offering the food industry a trail-blazing sustainable and vegan alternative protein: “In our LCA study, we investigated the environmental impact of producing protein from BSY and using it as an ingredient in burger patties,” he explains. “With these results, we aim to demonstrate the potential environmental benefits of using proteins derived from a high-quality brewery residue to our current and future project partners in the food industry using a global benchmark.”

In addition to the protein brand Yeastin®, the portfolio currently also includes the brand UpFiber® with beta-glucan and mannan.

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Date Published: 13th March 2023

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