What on Earth Is a Climatarian – and How Do You Eat Like One?

healthy eating, buddha bowl filled with buckwheat, avocado, chicken, carrot, and pumpkin
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Yes, you can still eat burgers -- but eating like a climatarian can help the Earth. Here's everything you need to know about helping the earth, one dinner plate at a time.

Whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, the foods we put on our plates and in our bodies have an impact on the world around us. Okay, maybe that one burger didn’t create climate change all on its own… but the process that went into making that burger and getting it to your plate may have contributed.

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Animal-related agriculture has a huge impact on land, air, water, and other resources — not to mention, an impact on other species. Livestock production is a huge contributor to the climate crisis, taking up two-thirds of farmland, prompting deforestation and driving biodiversity loss, and it is the largest source of water pollution. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that about 80 percent of antibiotics distributed here actually go to animals.

The biggest wake-up call, though? According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, livestock causes a whopping 15 percent of global emissions. Ouch.

What Is a Climatarian, Exactly?

Enter the climatarian diet. This climate-centered, nature friendly diet is designed to lessen the CO2 load and reduce climate change. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a climatarian as “a person who chooses what to eat according to what is least harmful to the environment.”

It’s a pretty powerful concept, and a much-needed one. The climate crisis is one of the biggest challenges of our time.

Unlike many other diets, the climatarian diet doesn’t involve strict rules about particular foods. Instead, this diet-slash-lifestyle focuses more on mindfulness about food production: where food comes from, and what’s involved in the process.

It’s all about reducing your dinner’s carbon footprint.

Instead of choosing extreme diet changes, a climatarian instead focuses on making small changes that collectively can make a large difference. People are reducing meat intake instead of eliminating, and buying local food to decrease food mileage. It makes it flexible, realistic, and entirely doable for a variety of lifestyles.

Just making these simple changes here and there to the way we eat can start making an impact on the planet — and as an added bonus, we’ll improve our health, too. Are you ready to start eating like a climatarian?

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Less Is More

The most effective way to battle climate change with your diet is to eat less meat — beef in particular. Scientists across the world acknowledge that the production of beef is a huge driver of climate change.

Look, you don’t have to stop eating steak entirely, but you do need to eat less of it. Currently, meat consumption in the U.S. is three times the global average.

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Start reaching for more vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. Just one meatless dinner a week can make a change! Hey, even eating chicken instead of beef can help reduce your carbon footprint.

Start Buying Locally and Shorten the supply Chain

When possible, buy your food from local or regional farmers. This applies to everything, meat and other animal products included.

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When you source many of your vegetables, fruits, meats, and everything else from local farmers, it doesn’t have to travel as far to get to your plate. This means reducing emissions and improving your dinner’s carbon footprint. You’ll know where your food came from and that it was ethically sourced.

As an added bonus, it benefits the local economy and supports your community!

Eat Less Processed Junk

Processed food is full of chemicals, and often involves energy-intensive production processes — contributing to air and water pollution. Not to mention, shipping food long distances is contributing, too.

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By switching to more whole foods (we’re talking real fruits and vegetables, here!), you’ll reduce your carbon footprint, and be healthier to boot.

Pay Attention to the Packaging Your Food Comes In

Avoiding plastic altogether seems nearly impossible, but reducing the amount of plastic that’s piling up in landfills is extremely important for the Earth.

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You’ll find that the above steps will already help you reduce plastic use already. Processed food is notorious for unnecessary amounts of packaging, but those in-season veggies from the farmers market can go directly into a reusable tote bag.

You can take it a step further, by not eating takeout from spots using styrofoam containers, and take a reusable cup the next time you make a Starbucks run.

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