After vegetarians, vegans and flexitarians, here is a new category of people who are particularly attentive to food choices: climatarians.
The term is not really so new: it appears for the first time in an article of 2015 of the New York Times as one of the most important words of the year related to the food world and, perhaps due to the increasing sensitivity towards the environmental impact of the food sector, is returning particularly in vogue in this period
What does it mean to be climatarians? Climatarian is someone who intends to reverse climate change through food choices. This means, for example, eating local products (to reduce the cost of transport), limitate and possibly avoid the consumption of meat (especially red meat) and use all parts of the product reducing food waste. We therefore need great attention to the properties of the food and a deep knowledge of the supply chain and production processes. The environmental impact of each step, from cultivation to packaging and from transport to disposal must be taken into consideration.
Take for example avocado, which has now become a must in our diet. Despite its excellent properties, this fruit can have an extremely negative impact on the environment: following an increase in demand, plantations in South America have been converted into intensive monocultures, subjecting the soils to increasing water stress. (avocado cultivation requires large quantities of water) and leading to the deforestation of large areas for new plantations. To this we must add the impact in terms of CO2 emissions due to transport (a fruit from South America is not exactly at kilometer zero). Fortunately for us, it is possible to become climatarians without necessarily giving up this extraordinary product: avocado cultivation is spreading in many areas of Sicily, with much more sustainable methods.
What do climatarians eat?
The first law of the climatarian code is the elimination of red meat, the production process of which has devastating effects both in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and in terms of consumption of natural resources. White meat is less of a problem from this point of view but should still be limited, as well as fish. Other foods of animal origin such as eggs and dairy products are allowed, but there are important rules to be respected: they must come from free range farms, where the animals are treated according to
certain standards and fed naturally.
The diet is thus based on large quantities of fruit, vegetables, legumes and cereals, always preferring 0 km products from a controlled and organic supply chain, and avoiding plastic packaging where possible.
Another pillar of climatarians
is the fight against food waste: therefore large stocks are avoided of perishable products, and attempts are made to reuse leftovers in all ways, using, for example, fruit and vegetable peels.
Changing our diet is the best chance to win the fight against climate change.
Data related to the environmental impact of food products make us reflect a lot on the importance of consciously choosing what ends up on our tables:
- Greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production have increased by 14% since 2000 and could increase by 58% by 2050 (1)
- The meat industry is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire transport industry (2)
- According to the latest UN report, 931 million tons of food are wasted every year in the world, equivalent to 17% of all that produced (3)
Beyond defining ourselves as climatarians, a more sustainable nutrition can really make a difference. This is also confirmed by the IPCC (intergovernmental panel on climate change), the scientific arm of the UN that deals with climate change. According to the latest report, the worldwide adoption of a more sustainable, predominantly plant-based diet, combined with a reduction in waste, is the fastest and most effective way to mitigate the effects of climate change.
We need to understand that every
choice we make has an impact on the environment. If we really are what we eat, we have the opportunity to be the generation of those who have chosen to save the planet, starting from our tables.
(1) Arcipowska, A., Mangan, E., Lyu , Y., & Waite, R. (2021). 5 Questions About Agricultural Emissions, Answered
from https: / / www.wri.org / insights / 5-questions-about-agricultural-emissions-answered
(2) Steinfeld, H., Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations., & Amp; Livestock, Environment and Development (Firm). (2006). Livestock's long
shadow: Environmental issues and options. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
(3) United Nations Environment Program (2021). Food Waste Index Report
Climatarians, who they are and what they eat - LifeGate. (2021) from https: / / www.lifegate.it / climatariani
IPCC, 2019: Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems