What on Earth is a climatarian?
In 2015, the New York Times defined a climatarian diet as “a diet whose primary goal is to reverse climate change.” While this certainly sounds like a worthwhile, noble goal, it also sounds intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are some easy ways to introduce the ideals of a climatarian diet to your life.
Buying local food is the easiest way to reduce the carbon footprint of your diet. Local food is grown in-season, it travels fewer miles, and it often has less packaging. As a bonus, a larger percentage of the price goes directly to the grower and stays in your community. The easiest way to start buying local is to look for local products whenever you shop for groceries. An even better way to buy local is to visit farmer’s markets and farm stands. Don’t forget to check out local orchards, too!
The best way for my family to focus on eating a climatarian diet was to get a CSA share. Vermont has so many farms that offer a wide array of shares. I chose a share that gives me local, in-season vegetables every week throughout the entire year. I cook meals based on what vegetables I receive each week. Other CSA shares come less often. There are also shares that include other local products, such as eggs, cheese, meat, fish, and bread.
Cut Back on Red Meat
Numerous studies have shown that beef has a huge carbon footprint compared to other protein sources. An easy way to cut back on beef consumption is to replace ground beef with ground turkey. I do this with all my recipes and I haven’t received any complaints from my children. I also add a variety of meatless meals to my menu rotation, such as pizza, soup, pasta, and egg dishes, such as quiche or frittatas. When you do eat red meat, opt for meat that has been grass-fed at a local farm, preferably one that uses all the parts of the animal to reduce food waste.
Cut Down on Food Waste
Food that doesn’t get consumed is a huge waste of resources. The most efficient way that I have cut back on food waste is through menu planning. I take one day a week and plan my meals while writing my grocery list. This way, I only buy what I am going to use for my planned meals. Also, I make sure to rotate my oldest food to the front of the cabinet or refrigerator so that I use the oldest stuff before it expires. Sometimes my dog even helps us cut down on food waste by eating things my children won’t touch, such as the ends of carrots.
It also helps reduce food waste if you get creative with leftover food. In my house, we often ended up with mushy berries at the end of the week. I started freezing them and then making jam when I had a full bag. You can also freeze leftover bits of vegetables and bones and make your own stock. I also tend to throw leftover bits of vegetables into a stir-fry dinner. If you don’t end up using food before it spoils, make sure to compost it instead of throwing it in the garbage.