The Good Food Institute (GFI) released three reports yesterday which show 2020 was a breakthrough year for alternative proteins.

A trend Emily Hennessee, a policy associate at GFI and my guest today on Inside Ideas, hails as the type of climate-forward shift away from business-as-usual the world now needs to make to overcome some of the biggest global grand challenges.

“The fragility of the food systems the pandemic exposed has shown people that real change needs to be made,” Emily says. “The risk of zoonotic diseases and future pandemics are real and alternative proteins can help reduce that risk. We can take control and deal with future crisis’ but it’s now or never in terms of taking charge and shifting gears.”

That change, as the GFI’s latest State of the Industry Reports reveal, is beginning to happen. And Emily believes that by harnessing the enthusiasm of young people to transform food systems, it will gather pace.

“There is growing interest from young people and endless opportunities for them to engage,” Emily explains. “We need activists but we also need biochemists, bioengineers, lobbyists who want to lobby for good aspects of the food systems. There are so many entry points to this work.”

And GFI is working hard to engage and support young people keen to pursue a career where they are able to make an impact in helping to fix broken food systems.

“GFI’s alt protein project is now creating student groups at universities worldwide – where they are working with professors to start doing more research in this area,” Emily added.

Inspiring change and educating people of the pressing need to reimagine food systems is of critical importance to the future prospects of people and planet. So I am delighted to have Emily on today’s show to take a deep dive in talking more about this huge issue.


Emily Hennessee

Based in Washington, D.C., Emily is a policy associate at The Good Food Institute and leverages policy to create a sustainable, secure, and just food system via alternative proteins in the United States and beyond. Prior to joining GFI, she worked on sustainable food efforts at Georgia Organics as the Farm to School Director and Director of Programs. Previously, Emily was the Sustainability Programs Coordinator at Emory University’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives.

Emily holds a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Emory University and an M.P.H. with a concentration in Food Systems from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Emily is also a member of her neighborhood community garden, on the Steering Committee for the American Public Health Association’s Center for Climate, Health, and Equity, and a Farm Foundation Young Agri-Food Leader.

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