Taylor Prentice discusses the benefits of a diet that is tailored towards tackling climate change.
After COP26 and the climate crisis being on our minds more than ever, you may be thinking about ways, on a personal level, to reduce your carbon footprint or generally make pro-environmental changes to your lifestyle.
Lifesum, the leading global nutrition app focused on dietary health, has announced a new, doctor-approved “climatarian” diet established on eating plant-based and locally sourced foods while reducing carbon emissions by 1.5 tonnes annually. The climatarian diet highlights the importance of being mindful of where you buy your food from, choosing to locally source your produce and eating a largely plant-based diet. Cutting back on consuming food with higher CO2 production is more beneficial than we perhaps realise, with food contributing to between 20-30% of global carbon emissions. Man-made carbon dioxide released from human activities enters the atmosphere causing carbon emissions, the main perpetrator to global warming. Thus, cutting out carbon-intensive foods from our diets is something we all should consider in order to protect our environment.
The eco-diet prioritises reducing animal products and replacing them with good quality plant foods that are low in CO₂ production. As consumers, collectively buying less from the meat industry will drive down overall production need, and thus significantly reduce carbon emissions.
Eating a climatarian diet is not only favourable for the environment, but is also hugely beneficial for health. Lifesum’s Dr Alona Pulde highlights that the diet is proven to “reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, autoimmune disease and obesity, while increasing our vitality, mental health and longevity.” She even reports that it may improve the skin’s appearance, reducing acne and making it look “healthier and younger.” Some of the staple foods recommended by the climatarian diet include: pulses and beans; locally sourced and seasonal fruits and vegetables; whole grains; nuts and seeds; and chicken – a lower impact meat option.
Furthermore the climatarian focuses not just on which foods we choose to eat, but also on our practices concerning food. It emphasises growing your own fruit and veg; shopping eco-consciously; only buying what you need to avoid food waste; or otherwise composting any waste to reduce carbon load. There are also many climatarian-friendly brands to look out for in supermarkets including Alpro, Ella’s Kitchen and Beyond Meat.
Dr Pulde also recommends being more conscious of everyday groceries which may be more harmful to the environment than we realise. Demands for coffee, palm oil and sugar have increased deforestation and led to the destruction of natural habitats; buying from sustainable and Fairtrade brands can combat this.
The climatarian diet may be an attractive alternative to those apprehensive about going fully vegan or vegetarian as it includes chicken as a lower-impact meat option. This means that even as a reducetarian you can still be a climatarian, with a focus towards cutting back on environmentally impactful foods. For people either considering the diet or who just want to make some changes to their eating habits, going climatarian for just half of the week or using more plant-based alternatives still contributes to a lower carbon footprint, and to the fight against the climate crisis.