Have you heard of the climatarian diet? It’s all choosing foods with a lower carbon footprint. Those on a climatarian diet recognise that our food system is a major contributor to climate change and seek to reduce or avoid foods with a large carbon footprint. In this post, we take a look at what a climatarian diet involves and how it differs from a vegan diet.

How a climatarian diet differs from a vegan diet

Like climatarians, vegans are concerned about the impact of our food production systems on the environment. Many vegans even cite concerns over the environment as the primary reason for switching to a plant-based diet. However, while the two diets are similar in this way, they differ in others.

Unlike veganism, the climatarian diet is not strict about eliminating meat and dairy products altogether. However, climatarians do seek to significantly reduce meat and dairy consumption, and some may choose to eliminate these altogether. Because the climatarian diet focuses on choosing foods with a low carbon footprint, it advocates reducing consumption of specific meat products – like beef and lamb – which have been found to have a higher carbon footprint than others.  

In essence, the vegan diet is primarily concerned with animal welfare, and, as such, the main focus is on the avoidance of animal-derived products in the foods we consume. The climatarian diet is primarily concerned with the environment, so the main focus is on foods with a low environmental impact. This means that climatarians may choose to reduce or avoid certain plant-based foods because they are not particularly good for the environment, whereas some vegans may choose to eat these foods.

It’s worth noting here that vegans who take a strict approach to the diet would also eliminate many of the foods that climatarians do – even if they’re plant-based. This is due to the indirect negative impact the production and distribution methods have on animals, their natural habitats and the ecosystem as a whole. This is because veganism is something of a spectrum, and individuals interpret and apply the philosophy in slightly different ways. While all vegans avoid meat, dairy and other products containing animal-derived ingredients, some choose to eat avocados, for example. In contrast, others avoid these due to the impact they have on the environment.

What do climatarians eat?

Climatarians aim to eat more plant foods because these generally have a lower carbon footprint than animal products. Climatarians are also concerned with making more sustainable choices when it comes to how they shop and cook. They aim to aim to avoid food waste and reduce packaging. Because the transportation of food produces significant emissions, climatarians aim to eat locally grown produce as much as possible. These are some of the foods which form the basis of a climatarian diet:

  • Locally grown or seasonal fruits and vegetables
  • Beans and lentils
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Chicken in place of other meats

What foods do climatarians seek to avoid?

Climatarians, in general, do not absolutely exclude any foods from their diet. Rather, they seek to eat some foods only very rarely, if at all. This includes:

  • Red meat – lamb and beef
  • Dairy
  • Internationally grown produce
  • Palm oil
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Processed and convenience foods
  • Farmed fish

Can you be a vegan and also a climatarian?

Vegans can also incorporate the principles of the climatarian diet into their lives, and lots of vegans already do! Many of us simply consider this as making more sustainable food and lifestyle choices. It’s about being aware of the impact of our foods on the environment and making better choices. So, vegans can be climatarians as well. However, climatarians cannot be considered vegans unless they entirely eliminate meat, dairy and other animal-derived products from their diet and also adopt a wider vegan lifestyle.