Is Climatarianism The Answer To A More Sustainable Diet?

Could eating more of certain foods while eating less of others help minimise your carbon footprint? Climatarian diets are the new buzzword around sustainable living and they could be the answer to more conscious consumption.

Want to minimise your carbon footprint but thrown off by the prospect of turning completely vegetarian/vegan? The climatarian diet might be the right choice for you. Developed by doctors over at the Global nutrition app, Lifesum, the latest eco-diet, focuses on where your food is produced from rather than entirely eliminating it. According to its founders, if followed correctly, a climatarian diet might reduce your CO2 emissions by 1.5 tonnes per year. So, what exactly is it?

What Is The Climatarian Diet?

A Climatarian diet, as stated by the Climates Network, is “the healthy, climate friendly, nature friendly diet” that can lower an individual’s annual CO2 emissions by a tonne. For example, eating food made with local produce, eating organic foods and limiting food waste. This usually means no red meat (such as beef, lamb or goat), as well as unsustainable caught fish, air-flown food, and heated greenhouse-grown food.

If you’re wondering, why no red meat? Cows and sheep are ruminants, which emit enormous volumes of methane and require more land than other farmed animals. According to Our World In Data “Beef produces the most greenhouse gas emissions and a global average of 110lb (50kg) of greenhouse gases is released per 3.5oz of protein.”

Foods that you can consume (which may surprise you) are: Pork, poultry, sustainable fish species, dairy products and eggs, seasonal fruits, vegetables and plant foods.

How Is A Climatarian Diet Different From A Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet excludes animal products, whereas a climatarian diet limits foods that contribute to climate change. There is a lot of overlap between the two, but there are some significant differences.

For example, responsibly farmed wild mussels and oysters help clean the water in which they live, making them suitable for the climatarian diet. A climatarian may choose to eat a minimal quantity of beef produced on a local or organic farm where the cows eat grass, which can enhance biodiversity and absorb carbon on grassland under carefully regulated conditions. These exemptions could also apply to farmstand cheese and dairy produced locally.

And there are several vegan items that a climatarian would avoid, such as almond milk (because of the vast quantity of water necessary to harvest almonds) and palm oil (which contributes to deforestation around the world). Climatarians will also likely avoid packaged meals that have travelled huge distances and are packaged in plastic.

Another important difference is the amount of versatility built into a climatarian’s diet. It is less strict than veganism and allows for plausible exclusions. There are no rigid regulations. For many people, this method is less intimidating and more sustainable in the long run than a vegan diet.

What Are The Health Benefits Of A Climatarian Diet:

When people begin to make food decisions with climate change in mind, they are more likely to notice benefits in their health.

The MVP staples of a climatarian diet — veggies, lentils, beans and whole grains — are high in fibre and nutrients linked to better health. These include achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight as well as lowering your risk of heart disease and cancer. Meanwhile, high-carbon foods (like ultra-processed snacks) are high in saturated fat, sugar, and calories. These are linked to several chronic diseases that are so common today, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

A diet free of processed foods and artificial additives is far better for your mind and body. You’re also lowering your intake of salt, sugar, and saturated fats by default. Processed meats, in particular, have been linked to a slew of health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and gastrointestinal problems.

What Are The Rules For Following A Climatarian Diet:

From the experts behind the climatarian diet, here are some of the most essential climatarian diet guidelines:

1) Consume less meat: Meat is one of the most carbon-intensive foods available, therefore reducing one meat meal per week will significantly lower your carbon footprint.

2) Avoid wasting food: Shop wisely, prepare ahead of time and store your food appropriately to avoid food waste.

3) When possible, eat locally and seasonally: The shorter distance a food travels to reach you, the lower its carbon footprint.

4) If possible, grow your own food: A simple planter box filled with vegetables and herbs goes a long way towards lowering your entire carbon footprint.

5) Compost your food scraps: Returning composted food waste to the soil regenerates the environment and keeps it out of landfills.

6) Consume organically farmed foods, particularly meats: Check the origins of your food to ensure that it was farmed in an ethical manner.

In conclusion, being a climatarian entails considering the big picture, not only where your food comes from but how far it travels and what resources are required to produce it. It’s about selecting food that is not wrapped in plastic, buying in bulk or loose to reduce packaging, decreasing food waste, composting food scraps, freezing leftovers and walking or cycling to the store rather than driving…

All of these things lead to a more environmentally friendly diet. Do you have any delicious climatarian diet recipes? Tag us on our IG @wearthlondon for a chance to be featured!