The climatarian diet: Easy swaps to make your meals more eco-friendly

The climatarian diet: Easy swaps to make your meals more eco-friendly


‘Red meat, especially beef, is one of the food items with the largest carbon footprint,’ says Dr Alona Pulde from healthy eating app Lifesum.

‘Cattle need a lot of resources, such as land, water and food, plus cows release methane gas, which makes beef one of the food items with the highest impact on the environment. Other foods with a large impact include coffee and palm oil.

‘Vegetables, fruit, grains, beans and lentils are sustainable, nutritious options to include in your diet, as they provide a lot of nutrients, while requiring fewer resources to grow and produce.

‘A “climatarian” diet is a way of eating that includes plenty of environmentally friendly food options, while reducing, or excluding, the foods that have a larger impact on the environment (such as beef).

‘It doesn’t mean that you need to start a fully plant-based diet, rather just be more mindful of your choices and reduce the amount of the less environmentally friendly food.’

Sounds easy enough, and it’s better for our health, too.

‘Eating a climatarian diet rich in nutritious foods such as beans, lentils, vegetables, whole grains and fruit can make us live longer,’ adds Dr Alona. ‘Shifting to a more plant-based diet could reduce both mortality and greenhouse gas emissions by up to ten% and 70% respectively by 2050.

‘A balanced nutritious diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Plant-based diets have been shown to reduce your risk of high blood pressure by 34% and reduce your LDL or “bad” cholesterol by up to 30%.’

It’s also worth rewarding brands taking active steps against global warming. Last year, The Climate Positive Food Company pledged to create a range of snacks using only surplus fruit from British farms. Squished was created in 2021 and by September 2022 had ‘rescued’ 25,000kg of berries destined for landfill. It now aims to ‘rescue’ one million kilos of fruit by 2024.

And crisps firm Walkers now uses carbon-capture technology to help turn leftover potato peelings from its factories into new low-carbon fertiliser, which can then be used to grow the same potatoes in its crisps. And snack brand Nurhu’s oat-based bar has a rice paper label printed with edible ink and covered in an edible wrapper, minimising waste further.

Kylie Fitzpatrick, FMCG specialist and director at Verve Global Market Research Agency says: ’Some brands are focusing on their ingredients and the way products are made, while others like Beyond Meat are targeting methane emissions – its plant-based meat alternatives use 99% less water than traditional meat and create 90% fewer greenhouse gases.

Brands are also looking at manufacturing processes; gin brand Bombay Sapphire’s distillery is now a certified green building and runs on 100% renewable energy. Packaging is also a key area. Waitrose recently switched from glass to aluminium cans for its singles serve wines, expected to halve the carbon footprint per drink and Cadbury has removed the plastic windows from Easter eggs.’

Download Dr Alona’s seven-day meal plan for free at

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