The BDA and Quorn Foods have a shared interest in developing engaging and evidence-based communications on sustainable and healthy meal choices. The BDA achieves this through our One Blue Dot reference guide for dietitians and Quorn Foods through their front of pack carbon footprint labelling, research programme and involvement with healthcare professionals.

By pairing up Quorn Foods’ expertise around carbon footprinting and incorporating their mycoprotein range alongside the skills of our expert dietitians, we have developed Sustainable Eats in partnership.

Through five familiar recipes (click the recipe tab avove) Sustainable Eats represents a 3-step journey, to highlight that small changes to recipes can have a big impact on our nutrition and individual carbon footprint. The interactive platform equips the public with evidence-based information to make an informed choice on what variation of the recipes they would like to try; whilst viewing key health and sustainability messaging to support their decision-making.

The project team has included working with registered dietitians, independent carbon footprint experts, home economists, designers and digital agencies to design and deliver an interactive, yet fun way, to highlight this information.


To align with our ‘whole diet’ approach to both health and sustainability we selected main meals as our baseline which were familiar to the public. These recipes all include meat as a key ingredient. While demonstrating adequate protein in the adapted versions was a factor in the discussion, showing improvements in diet quality overall was the main consideration and aim for the evolution of the recipes.

Mycoprotein & meat product selection

The team agreed that all recipes would use Quorn pieces or Quorn mince in the adaptations, because these are by far the most popular products purchased from their range (hence familiar to consumers), they are used in a similar way to meat in recipes and because complete nutrient data is available for these products. In this way we could ensure robust nutritional analysis and accurate carbon footprint labelling. Both of these products are fully based on Quorn’s proprietary ingredient mycoprotein.

Finally, we identified five familiar recipes that incorporated mince (meat or Quorn) and/or chicken (or Quorn pieces): Spaghetti Bolognese, Paella, Tikka Massala, Chilli and Fajitas.

Recipe adaptations

Our commissioned dietitian at Nutrilicious worked collaboratively with Quorn Food’s Home Economist to design recipes adaptations which incorporated more plant-based ingredients over two steps – adding vegetables, beans and pulses, and removing some/all of the meat, replacing with the most relevant Quorn alternative (mince or pieces).

Improving the overall nutritional value of the meal was the main criteria, while also providing a full method which shows the public how to make these switches in their favourite meals.

Recipe method

Quorn Food’s Home Economist based the structure for each of the methods on the recipes developed for the BDA and Let’s Get Cooking which, in addition to the method and ingredients, includes: equipment, skills used and top tips. 

Recipe adaptation

Sustainable Eats has taken original dishes and given them a twist to make sure that the entire dish is balanced while being better for us – and the planet. Quorn Foods’ Home Economist and our team worked collaboratively to achieve these adaptations.

Nutritional Analysis

Nutrilicious Ltd were commissioned to provide a full nutritional analysis of all 15 recipes. The dietary analysis software that was used for the analysis was Accredited Diet Plan 7[1] which uses McCance & Widdowson’s dataset[2]. The analysis of recipe undertaken as per EU nutrition labelling guidelines[3].

Each recipe was assessed for the ‘Big 8’ per 100g and per serving: Energy, Total Fat, Carbohydrates, Sugars, Fibre, Protein and Salt. The front of pack traffic light labelling was measured based on UK Food Labelling Front of Pack Traffic Light Criteria[4] and is displayed for each recipe.

Additionally, the number of fruit and vegetable servings within each recipe was calculated to display the ‘5 a day’ and allergens identified. Nutrient claims, in particular fibre and saturated fats presented within the resource, adhere to EU standards for nutrition claims[5]. Regulatory claims, such as: ‘source of protein’, have also been identified in line with EU nutrition claims[6].


[1] Forestfield Software April 2020 Update - Dietplan

[2] McCance & Widdowson's The Composition of Foods, 7th Edition, 2014 and the Composition of Foods Integrated Data Set, 2nd revision 2015


[6] Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods last amended by Regulation (EU) No 1047/2012.



Environmental Analysis

Carbon footprint provider, CarbonCloud, were commissioned to provide the life cycle assessment focusing on greenhouse gases. This particular provider was selected owing to their experience of product climate footprinting and the depth of analysis that they are able to achieve through their modelling software.

Carbon footprint calculation of all 15 recipes:

1. Calculate Carbon footprint of all ingredients

The carbon footprint for Quorn Mince and Pieces is calculated using primary data from 'Farm to Shop' which accounts for all greenhouse gases emitted from the production of raw materials up until the supermarket, including growing of ingredients, manufacture, packaging, storage and transportation. Quorn Foods has been footprinting their core products and certifying this data with third-party accreditation since 2012, and the data used has been extracted from the most recent 2019 certified product footprints[1].

Some of the remaining ingredients from the recipes were already within the CarbonCloud library. The climate footprints of ingredients in the CarbonCloud library is based on CarbonCloud’s internal research. Additional ingredients for this specific project also came from the RISE database.

Further energy emissions were added according to the cooking methods for each recipe.

2.  Multiply the carbon footprint of each ingredient by the weight used in the recipe

The weight used in each recipe was established during the nutritional analysis and displayed using DietPlan 7.

3. Calculate the carbon footprint of storage and cooking within the home

The carbon footprint of the storage and cooking within the home is then calculated, by accounting for the energy needed for 4 days of storage in a fridge/freezer and for each step of cooking – this is added to the final footprint.

Benchmarking carbon footprint metrics

The team wanted to demonstrate the carbon footprint metrics in a relatable way within the resource. A report from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey captured the average daily figure per person for food is 2.8 kg[2]. This report also included a target to reduce daily emissions by 1.78kg per person.



The carbon footprints are based on a "cradle to cooked dish" life cycle assessment. The decision was made to exclude transportation of the food from the shop to the home as there is significant variability in terms of how this is achieved by consumers. One assumption made is that the ingredients that are stored in a fridge or freezer before cooking, are stored for 4 days. In terms of preparation-related emissions, electricity was assumed as the primary energy source, but the team acknowledges that there will be differences in the carbon footprint for those reliant on gas for their cooking appliances.

A further limitation of the footprint metrics is the highly variable environmental impacts of all ingredients except for Quorn products – which are tightly controlled and third-party certified by The Carbon Trust. For example, the project assumed a minimum carbon footprint for UK chicken, but in reality the poultry meat available to buy in the UK may come from a different country and/or be produced in a way which has a far higher carbon footprint[3]. This variability is most pronounced for animal products but is also seen to a lesser extent in plant-based ingredients. Therefore, the difference in carbon footprint between each recipe in this project is likely to be a conservative estimate due to the selection of lower footprint figures for the meat ingredients.

Finally, carbon footprinting is currently the most useful singular metric to assess and compare product sustainability across different food types, due to the increasing amount of robust data available. However carbon footprints are not able to capture many other aspects of sustainability which are important considerations for dietary changes which would help to create more resilient food systems, such as the impact of production methods on land, soil and water systems; the treatment of workers in the supply chains; availability and accessibility of ingredients; the health and economic costs of food production; the level of waste across the value chain; and in the case of meat and dairy products - the welfare standards of rearing conditions and the impact of feed sources (e.g. soy) for livestock.


[1] Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018). Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science360(6392), 987-992.

[2] Reynolds (2019) ‘Healthy and sustainable diets that meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and are affordable for different income groups in the UK’




It was interesting to note that when the team added in side dishes or plant-based ingredients to increase nutrition within the veggie meals that the carbon footprint was higher than expected compared to the chicken based original recipes in particular. For example, increasing spinach and mushrooms within some of the dishes increased the carbon footprint more than replacing chicken with Quorn pieces per 100g. The low chicken footprint as noted in the limitations has a role to play here - and since the dish does have more fibre and less saturated fat it provides a better balance overall in terms of health credentials - but more work is required to communicate these nuances to the public as they try to incorporate environmental considerations alongside healthy eating messages.

At the beginning of the project, there was lack of in-depth nutrient data for a proportion of the mycoprotein portfolio. Following this project Quorn Foods plans for next year include a desk-based nutrient profile analysis for the remaining range (more than 100 products!), supported by the BDA, plus an in-depth lab-based nutritional analysis of their most popular products in the UK.

We will be collecting feedback on the recipes to see which are most popular with the public, seeking suggestions for further recipes to include in the next phase of the Sustainable Eats project (including those from under-represented cultures and ethnicities), and identifying further areas of interest in terms of nutritional and environmental considerations of sustainable diets for the British population.