To mark Earth Day, doctors Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman at Lifesum, the leading nutrition app that helps users to improve their health through better eating, have unveiled that if every Brit ate a Climatarian diet, it would be the equivalent of removing 85 million cars off the roads per year – or all the cars in the UK and Germany combined.
“Eating a Climatarian diet can improve health and save our planet,” says Lifesum’s Dr Alona Pulde. “And the good news for meat and dairy-lovers is that it doesn’t mean cutting these foods out completely. The main goal is to reduce animal products and eat more plant foods as these have a lower carbon footprint. It’s about considering the origins of what you eat and reducing your CO2 impact by choosing eco-friendly options such as locally sourced, seasonal ingredients – and the equivalent of removing 85 million cars off the road would make a huge difference to carbon reduction.”
The Climatarian Diet is one of the most popular diets on Lifesum, and, to get you started, Dr Pulde has created a 7-day plan, featuring healthy, nutritious recipes, including chicken and bean patties with potato and broccoli mash, and vegan bolognese and pasta.
From living longer to reducing the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, Dr Pulde has unveiled the top 5 health benefits of eating a Climatarian diet.
• Live longer. Shifting to a more plant-based diet could reduce both mortality and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 10% and 70% respectively by 2050.
• Reduces high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol. Plant-based diets have been shown to reduce your risk of high blood pressure by 34%, and reduce your LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol by up to 30%.
• Weight-loss and sustaining a trim weight. Choosing whole plant-based foods high in fibre, water, and nutrients and lower in fat, sugar and salt helps to take and keep weight off. Meat eaters are three times more likely to be obese compared to vegetarians and nine times more likely compared to vegans. And being overweight or obese was shown to increase the risk of heart disease by up to 28%.
• Reduce depression and improve mood. An increased risk of depression is associated with diets high in red or processed meat, refined grains, high-fat dairy products and sweets – while a lower risk of depression and improved mood is associated with diets high in fruits and vegetables.
• Healthy looking skin. The rich nutrient profile in whole plant based foods, including antioxidants, helps keep skin looking younger and healthier while reducing blemishes and improving acne.
Despite the many health benefits, Dr Lederman acknowledges that some people might not feel enthused about eating eco-friendly food if they feel that it does not meet certain needs, for example, pleasure and joy. “Don’t force yourself into the Climatarian diet, because doing so rarely leads to long-term results,” says Dr Lederman. “Instead, try to address all of your underlying needs, for example, the need for more information, support or reassurance. Those on the Climatarian diet, or any diet, have just addressed the underlying needs that were preventing them from changing their behaviour in the first place.”
And whether you are ordering food online or buying the weekly supermarket shop, Dr Pulde has shared the top questions to make better Climatarian choices to reduce carbon emissions.
• How can I add plant foods to every meal? Plant foods, in general, are the most health promoting foods and have a lower carbon footprint.
• What are the most sustainable fish? Familiarise yourself with reliable sources in your area and look for their labels to help identify the most eco-friendly choices.
• Where can I choose chicken and pork, instead of beef and lamb? Meat production, particularly beef, requires more land and water, and has higher carbon emissions. Replacing beef for chicken can decrease your carbon footprint by nearly half.
• Is this food seasonal and local? Choosing locally sourced, seasonal fruits and veggies helps to lower CO2 impact.
• How can I avoid plastic packaging? The more minimally processed foods you include the healthier you will be and the lower the carbon footprint you leave.
• Can I buy bulk instead of packaged? 30-40% of food is dumped in landfills and produces methane – a toxic greenhouse gas. And the situation in Ukraine and Russia is making the need to preserve and reduce food waste even more important. Buying in bulk, planning ahead and buying only what you need can help to decrease food waste, unburden our overflowing landfills, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
• Where can I fit beans, lentils and peas into my diet? These eco-heroes are delicious and nutritious, and replacing beef with lentils and beans could get us up to 74% closer to meeting our carbon emissions.
• Can I try whole instead of refined grains? Choosing brown rice over white and whole wheat or lentil pasta over refined improves not only your health but your carbon footprint. Grains (oats, barley, wheat, rice), in general, use up less water than other crops. And whole grains have the added benefit of eliminating additional energy needed for processing.
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