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Experts reveal the healthy diet that can save the planet by reducing your CO2 by 1.5 tonnes every year

A Climatarian diet focuses on reducing the carbon footprint with plant-based, locally sourced produce.

By LLM Reporters  |  October 27, 2021
vegan diet

Doctors at Lifesum, the leading global nutrition app that helps users to improve baseline health through better eating, have unveiled how a climatarian diet can improve health and save the planet by reducing your CO2 by 1.5 tonnes annually – plus five foods and daily hacks to lower your carbon footprint.

A climatarian diet focuses on reducing the carbon footprint with plant-based, locally sourced produce. Food creates 20-30% of all global carbon emissions. A major component is also reducing animal food consumption, particularly beef, which contributes to higher emissions than plant foods (about 57% compared to 29%) and more than transportation globally.

Increased carbon emissions are drastically changing our planet, including rising temperatures and sea levels, which contribute to more heat waves, drought, storms and wildfires. Not only does a climatarian diet help the planet, but it can improve our health by preventing and even reversing disease. 

Nuts and seeds
The most eco-friendlyy include peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds and pumpkin seeds

“Meat, especially highly processed meat, has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders and certain cancers,” said Lifesum’s Dr Alona Pulde. “A climatarian diet focused on whole plant-based foods, has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and obesity, while increasing overall vitality, mental health and longevity. Some people even notice their skin clears of blemishes or acne – or just looks healthier and younger.”

Dr Pulde has unveiled the best climatarian foods to make your diet more sustainable and reduce carbon emissions, many of which you probably have at home. 

  • Lentils and beans. These eco-heroesare delicious and nutritious, and replacing beef with lentils and beans could get us up to 74% closer to meeting our carbon emissions
  • Local and seasonal fruits and veggies. These have a particularly low carbon footprint, and buying local and seasonal reduces processing, packaging, transportation and food spoilage.
  • Whole grains, including pasta, brown rice and wheat. Lots of health benefits and less processing and energy requirements environmentally, which lowers our carbon footprint. 
  • Nuts and seeds. The most eco-friendly include peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds and pumpkin seeds – a great protein source with a lower carbon footprint.
  • Chicken. Meat production, particularly beef, requires more land and water, and has higher carbon emissions. Swapping beef for chicken can decrease your carbon footprint by nearly half
Organic vegetables
Consider adding plant foods to every meal, changing breakfast to 100% plant-based or having plant-based weekends

Dr Pulde offers some simple hacks to start a climatarian diet. She explains: “Consider adding plant foods to every meal, changing breakfast to 100% plant-based or having plant-based weekends. In addition, try reducing the amount of processed and packaged foods to decrease carbon footprint of transportation. Buy just what you need to avoid food waste, and fill your freezer with leftovers to help reduce food waste and support healthy eating when you don’t feel like cooking.” 

To help get you started on a climatarian diet, Dr Pulde has created a 7-day beginners meal plan, which features delicious recipes, including kale pasta and chicken and bean patties with potato and broccoli mash. Download the 7-day beginner’s meal plan here.

“A plant-based diet can literally help to save our planet,” said professor Mark Maslin, a climate-change scientist at University College London, and author of the best-selling book, How To Save Our Planet. “A Western standard meat-based diet produces 7.2 kgCO2e/day, a vegetarian diet produces 3.8 kgCO2e/day and a vegan diet produces 2.9 kgCO2e/day. By switching from a western standard meat-based diet to a climatarian diet, you can reduce your CO2 by 1.5 tonnes annually.” 

Fresh grilled meat
Dr Pulde suggests limiting or eliminating your intake of both beef and lamb

Dr Pulde also suggests being mindful about the following everyday items, including coffee, sugar and palm oil, as they also contribute to increased carbon emissions and deforestation. 

  • Beef and lamb. Consider limiting or eliminating as they are primary contributors to environmental damage. In fact, beef, mutton and milk production contribute 80% of total greenhouse gas emissions amongst livestock.
  • Palm oil. Contributes to deforestation, soil erosion and depletion, natural habitat destruction, and higher carbon emissions. 
  • Farmed fish. Require more wild fish consumption than actual fish production. Their feces contribute to water pollution, while the crowding of fish can breed bacteria and other disease.
  • Coffee. Increased demand has resulted in production that contributes to deforestation, heavy water usage and runoff that pollutes waterways and destroys natural habitats.
  • Sugar. Production leads to deforestation and destroys natural habitats. It is water intensive, which erodes the soils and contaminates waterways, damaging sea life ecosystems.