Food production produces 25% of all global greenhouse gas emissions and covers 40% of ice and desert-free land. By 2050, the world population will require 100% more protein, with the hungriest populations concentrated in regions most susceptible to the impacts of climate change. Adopting a plant-based diet has been seen as a solution, but some processing techniques result in higher CO2 emissions per kg of protein from plant sources such as legumes than from meat sources such as chicken. Traditional protein production is energy intensive and inefficient. Improved techniques such as gentle wet separation use less water, less energy and produce interesting functional fractions that have qualities such as stronger gelling or better foaming. Resulting foodstuffs are more sustainable, more attractive to consumers, cost less to produce and may have improved nutritional value. More investment is needed to develop these improved processing techniques.