Balanced Nutrition; Sustainability & Nature; Article

Did you know that you can eat … sustainably?


“With a simple diet shift you can save a ton of CO2 a year…” [1]

Most definitions of a healthy diet come down to “an appropriate caloric intake of plant foods, low amounts of animal source foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and limited amounts of processed foods and added sugar” [2]. And indeed, there are many modern and popular diets that improve health and promote weight reduction. 



What exactly is a Climatarian Diet?

However, recently healthy diets that also present planetary benefits by exhibiting lower carbon footprints have been introduced. These are known as CLIMATERIAN DIETS. The climatarian diet emphasizes making decisions about the food one eats through choosing low-impact options. More specifically, in these diets are being avoided foods that:

  • Require large amounts of natural resources, like land or water
  • Contribute to pollution
  • Cause ocean acidification
  • Emit greenhouse gasses (GHG)
  • Use excessive or non-biodegradable packaging [1]


How do climatarian diets save our planet?

To save our planet, our diets must consider water, emissions and land usage. A meat-based diet has almost double the carbon footprint of a vegetarian or vegan diet. However, some vegetarian or vegan foods like avocados and almonds have a huge water footprint.

The main principle of these low-carbon-footprint diets’ is the reduction of ruminant meat (cattle and sheep) and processed food consumption. The increase in consumption of meats such as chicken, pork, and of locally grown fruits and vegetables can be maintained, without significantly affecting the carbon footprint. Thus, making small simple substitutions within everyone's diet can be considered an effective contribution to lower the environmental impact and at the same time improve health and longevity.


Climate-friendly” mediterranean diet

Among the “climate-friendly” diets, the mediterranean diet, has a comparatively favorable impact on the environment. Its carbon footprint is lower than that of the keto, and paleo diets, for instance. Moreover, the limited consumption of processed foods in the Mediterranean diet also corresponds to lower plastic consumption and emissions associated wit the processing, packaging, and transportation of these products [3], making thus the Mediterranean diet totally compatible with sustainability [4].



Author: Anna Gkriniari, CRE THI DEV



References:

[1] Climatarian–The Easy, Healthy, Climate Friendly Diet. [(accessed on 26 October 2022)]. Available online: https://climatarian.com/

[3] Dernini S., Berry E.M., Serra-Majem L., Vecchia C.L., Capone R., Medina F.X., Aranceta-Bartrina J., Belahsen R., Burlingame B., Calabrese G., et al. Med Diet 4.0: The Mediterranean diet with four sustainable benefits. Public Health Nutr. 2017;20:1322–1330

[4] Renunciation and Ostentation: A Jain Paradox–Jainpedia. Available online: https://jainpedia.org/reading/renunciation-and-ostentation/

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HADEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.