History of the institute

The origins of the IFPE go back to a working group at the Institute of Nutritional Science at Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, the Alternative Diets Working Group. The group was founded in 2004 by doctoral candidates in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Claus Leitzmann. The aim of the working group was to investigate the principles, advantages and disadvantages of alternative diets in an unbiased and well-founded manner. The results of this research should continuously and systematically be made available to the scientific community and the general public. For this purpose, numerous contacts have been established with leading representatives and organizations of alternative diets, particularly in Germany. As part of this work, the 2nd edition of the reference book ‘Alternative Ernährungsformen’ (Hippokrates Verlag) and the dissertations of the nutritionists Dr. Edmund Semler (‘Rohkost: historische, therapeutische und theoretische Aspekte einer alternativen Ernährungsform’, Eigenverlag 2006) and Dr. Markus Keller (‘Alternative Ernährungskonzepte’, Verlag Dr. Kovač 2008) were developed alongside other publications.

In coorperation with Prof. Claus Leitzmann, Dr. Markus Keller founded 2010 the Institute for Alternative and Sustainable Nutrition (Ifane) as an independent scientific institute based in Giessen. After an expansion at the end of 2011, which brought the institute to Langgöns, the move to larger premises in Biebertal (district of Giessen) followed in 2014.

In 2013, Ifane was recognized by UNESCO as an official project of the UN World Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. This award was given to selected initiatives that implement the aims of this global education campaign of the United Nations in an exemplary manner.

Dr. Markus Keller joined the teaching staff of the state-recognized, private University of Applied Sciences (FHM) based in Bielefeld at the start of the 2016 autumn term. In 2018, he was appointed the world’s first professor of vegan nutrition there. As academic course director, he was responsible for the further development of the new B.A. course in Vegan Food Management and for the implementation of various third-party funded projects.

In November 2019, Ifane was once again recognized for its outstanding work by the German UNESCO Commission and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the Expert Network on Sustainable Nutrition (ENE).

At the end of May 2020, Dr. Markus Keller left the FHM to found a new institute together with other scientists, the Research Institute for Plant-Based Nutrition gGmbH.