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Go ‘Climatarian’

by | 10th Nov 2021

IT SEEMS THAT absolutely everyone has developed an environmental conscience to some degree or other.

With regards to the food consumer, you might think going increasingly vegetarian or vegan is the obvious answer in terms of diet but in fact eating more of some foods and less of others can help reduce your carbon footprint and so reduce your personal impact on the environment.

For example, ditching meat in favour of greenhouse-grown vegetables flown thousands of miles to reach your local supermarket, might actually increase your carbon footprint.

When it comes to a sustainable food and drink choices, there are lots of factors to consider, which is why some people choose to adopt a ‘Climatarian’ diet, choosing lower-carbon options as much as possible.

How do you become a Climatarian?

While some people choose to cut out meat completely, others don’t. The main goal of the diet is to eat more plant foods while limiting or eliminating animal products. Plant foods, in general, have a lower carbon footprint than animal foods, with fruits and vegetables being particularly low.

A Climatarian diet isn’t just about what you eat, it’s about how you shop and cook as well.  The idea is to buy just what you need, and fill your freezer with leftovers to help reduce food waste and support healthy eating when you don’t feel like cooking.

“A plant-based diet can literally help to save our planet,” says Professor Mark Maslin, a climate-change scientist at University College London. “By switching from a western standard meat-based diet to a Climatarian diet, you can reduce your CO2 by 1.5 tonnes annually.”

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.

Thinking of adopting a more eco-friendly diet? Follow these tips to get started…

Eat more lentils and beans

As the tongue-in-cheek saying goes, beans really are good for your heart, especially if you use them as a meat alternative in things like chilli or pasta sauces. Replacing beef with lentils and beans could get us up to 74% closer to meeting our carbon emissions targets.

Don’t buy palm oil products

The production of palm oil, which can be found in things like bread, biscuits, crisps and ice cream, contributes to deforestation, soil erosion, and natural habitat destruction, as well as higher carbon emissions. Look for ‘Palm oil free’ labels on packaging.

Buy local and seasonal fruits and veggies

The ingredients for your salad or soup should never have to take a long-haul flight – buying local and seasonal reduces the C02 emissions from processing, packaging and transportation.

Consider your coffee consumption

Often overlooked by conscious consumers, increased demand for coffee has resulted in production that contributes to deforestation, heavy water usage, pollution of waterways and natural habitat destruction.  Look for sustainable brands with strong eco credentials.

Opt for whole grains

Whole grain products like pasta, brown rice and wheat require less processing and with their lower GI (glycaemic index) rating – meaning they release energy more slowly – they’re better nutritionally.

Stock up on nuts and seeds

Great for snacking or adding to smoothies or overnight oats, nuts and seeds are a great source of protein. The most eco-friendly varieties include peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds and pumpkin seeds.

Don’t eat farmed fish

Following a pescatarian diet isn’t necessarily better for the environment. Farmed fish come with their own issues, including their faeces contributing to water pollution.

Swap beef for chicken

If you don’t want to cut out meat completely, chicken is the least carbon-intensive option. Compared to beef, switching to chicken can decrease your carbon footprint by nearly half.

Limit your sugar intake

Not only is excessive sugar consumption bad for your health, it’s bad for the planet too. Sugar production can contribute to deforestation and is water intensive, which can lead to soil erosion.

In the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, a study as far back as 2019 concluded that: “Global diets have been shifting toward greater consumption of foods associated with increased disease risk or higher environmental impacts and are projected to lead to rapid increases in diet-related diseases and environmental degradation.   Reversing this trend in the regions in which it has occurred and instead increasing consumption of whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, and olive oil and other vegetable oils high in unsaturated fats—foods that are consistently associated with decreased disease risk and low environmental impacts—would have multiple health and environmental benefits globally. Public and private solutions could help shift food consumption toward healthier and more environmentally sustainable outcomes.”

Food for thought?…..

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