Climatarian Diet

What is a Climatarian diet?

A Climatarian diet involves choosing what you eat based on the carbon footprint of different foods. You can use your power as a consumer to drive down the production of the types of meat which have the biggest impact on our climate.

What does this look like in practice?

This requires a basic understanding of the carbon footprint of each type of meat and dairy. Short of this, the minimum someone needs to know is that beef and lamb have by far the biggest carbon footprint of all and should be consumed on special occasions, if at all.

But seriously, how much and how frequently?

According to a Harvard School of Public Health study, this would look like, at a bare minimum, limiting your consumption of beef and lamb to either one standard serving per week (65g as per Australian dietary guidelines) or one large serving a month, such as a steak or roast (~300g). In practice this could be done by trying out vegetarian or vegan options in place of the times you eat beef and lamb or if you can’t do that then switching it over to lower carbon options such as pork or chicken.Once someone has been practising the above and are comfortable with this arrangement then they could consider cutting beef and lamb out of their diet altogether. They could also try limiting their consumption of cheese as this has the biggest carbon footprint of all dairy products.

The Facts

If meat consumption increases at current rates, by 2050 global GHG emissions from agriculture will have increased by 76%. If we all reduced meat consumption by 25%, it could result in a 51% decline in agricultural GHG emissions over the same period.
In 2011, the average global per capita meat consumption was 116g per day. A 22% percent reduction to 90g a day; as recommended by the Harvard healthy eating guide, would potentially avoid 2.14 Gt CO2-e per year by 2030, a figure that increases when beef and lamb meat consumption is replaced by non-beef and lamb sources.
By 2050, reducing meat and dairy consumption globally to within the range recommended by nutritional guidelines could potentially avoid up to 5.6 Gt CO2-e per year.
A worldwide reduction of meat and dairy consumption to within healthy eating limits could reduce the costs of staying within a 2°C climate target by 50%.
Without significant reductions in beef and lamb meat and dairy consumption, the growth in agricultural emissions will crowd out mitigation efforts in other sectors and render the 2°C target unrealisable.
The average Australian diet accounts for 14.5kg CO2-e per person per day, with red meat accounting for 8 kg CO2-e per person per day. Reducing beef and lamb meat consumption to 50gg per day could reduce agricultural GHG emissions by 22%, while preventing incidences of colorectal cancer by over 10%y.

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