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Climatarian is an easy diet that's good for the climate and good for your health.

Go Climatarian - it's the easiest way to cut your carbon and help limit climate change

and you can start right now!

Simply avoiding beef and lamb in everyday meals saves a tonne of CO2e every year.

That's equivalent to the emissions from driving 3,500 miles or taking 6 short haul flights! 

You don't have to give up meat and even if you eat Climatarian only half the time you'll be making a real difference.

Going Climatarian is good for your health.

Large studies have revealed links between eating red and processed meat and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. 

Food causes 20-30% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Meat causes far higher emissions than plant based food and beef and lamb have a much greater climate impact than pork and poultry. 

More than half the world's crops are used to feed animals. 

Beef and lamb have a far higher climate impact than pork and poultry.




Source: Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK, Peter Scarborough et al., Oxford University, 2014. 


Check out some climate friendly recipes here

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The climate impact of beef and lamb stands out above pork, poultry, dairy and other foods. 



Source: The Environmental Working Group, Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change and Health, What you Eat Matters. 


Climatarians avoid ruminant meat - beef, sheep, goat or deer.

While we all need to eat less meat for our health and the climate, you don't have to give up meat entirely and you can still enjoy pig meat, poultry and fish for an easy mixed diet. 

Grazing animals that chew the cud, cattle, sheep, goats and deer are called ruminants and have a much higher climate impact than other meats and animal products. They need more energy intensive feed and produce more manure than pigs or chickens. Food ferments in their four stomach digestive system, so they burp methane gas.

Crops grown for animal feed produce more nitrous oxide than crops for people. Nitrous oxide is released by fertilisers and manure and is hundreds of times more potent than CO2

Wild deer is an exception and is considered carbon neutral so long as there has been no human intervention in its production. 

And if you want to do the best for the climate: 

Avoid processed meats which use more energy, eat less meat overall and be careful not to waste meat: 1kg of boned beef waste is equivalent in CO2e to 24kg of wasted wheat.  

The rationale for the Climatarian diet is clear in the graph below. 


Source: Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK, Peter Scarborough et al., Oxford University, 2014. 

Beef and mutton stand out above all other foods. 

Of 93 different food types in the normal UK diet in an Oxford University study, nearly all are clustered below 10kg CO2e per kg food. Beef and mutton stand out above all the rest, between 60 and 70kg CO2e per kg food. Other meat products, animal fats and offals hover around the 35-40kg mark. 

Beef production causes 5 times more CO2e per calorie than other meat and animal sources

Source: Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas, and reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs and dairy production in the United States, William H.Schlesinger, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

Beef production requires 28 times more land, 11 times more water and causes 5 times more CO2e, than the average of other livestock categories. Compared to staple plant foods such as potatoes, wheat and rice, beef uses 160 times more land, 8 times more irrigated water and causes 11 times more CO2e per calorie. 


Large studies have revealed links between eating red and processed meat and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Red meat includes ruminant and pig meat, and processed meat includes bacon, sausages, ham and salami. While eating a small amount of red meat has been shown to be beneficial, studies agree that processed meats raise the risks. 

2 degrees

To have a good chance of keeping global warming within 2 degrees we need to reduce meat consumption in the developed world by 50% by 2050. Meat consumption in the developing world is rising but remains comparatively very low. 


Livestock based food production is the key source of water pollution, competes with biodiversity and promotes species extinction. 

Intensive farming

It is suggested that intensively farmed beef has a lower climate impact than free range. On the other hand the Soil Association suggests that well managed, organically farmed grasslands store carbon and counterbalance the methane impacts of beef and lamb farming. While the debate continues, there are ethical and health reasons for choosing high welfare, organic, free range, pasture raised meat. 


Concerns about over fishing, threatened species, harmful PCBs, farmed fish welfare and the impact of diseases spreading from farmed to wild fish make eating fish a controversial area. A 2016 study by Bournemouth University, UK and Universidad Estatal Penisula de Santa Elena, Equador reveals that over fishing, shark finning and whaling are likely to hasten climate change. Predator fish are needed to reduce stocks of small fish and zooplankton and limit their COemissions, while whales play an essential role in maintaining the health of sea plants that absorb CO2 .

Eat only a moderate amount of sustainable fish, look for the MSC, Marine Stewardship Council, logo. 

Can't go the whole hog?

If you can't bring yourself to go the whole hog with the Climatarian diet, and want to treat yourself to an occasional meal of beef or lamb, make it a real treat and choose the highest welfare, organically farmed, free range meat. 

And if cutting it out seems too hard, cut down. Introduce more meat free meals into your regular diet and replace beef and lamb with pork and chicken in a few favourite recipes. Pork mince bolognese is great, chicken lasagne, quite delicious and even cottage pie can benefit from mixing it up with pork. 

Check out some climate friendly recipes here

More climate friendly food habits.

  • Buy local, seasonal, fresh food. 
  • Avoid high energy air freighted, greenhouse grown food. 
  • Buy organic where possible. 
  • Shop carefully to avoid wasting food, especially meat.
  • Buy short life-span food in small quantities to avoid waste.
  • Grow your own.

Some other climate friendly diets: 


If you want to choose the best diet for the planet go vegan. There is no question that a plant based diet has the lowest climate impact.


While many consider the next best thing to vegan to be a vegetarian diet including dairy products and eggs, the US Environmental Working Group, which has done a lot of work in this area, finds that a vegetarian diet which includes cheese is less climate friendly than a diet which leaves out cheese and includes chicken.


A pescatarian who adds fish to an otherwise vegetarian diet is considered to have only a 2.5% increased climate impact. However the concerns about fish stocks, harmful PCBs, farmed fish welfare and disease mentioned above apply here too. 

Pledge to go Climatarian and receive a handy shopping guide.

Subscribe to Climatarian to follow all the comments in this thread. 

Climatarian draws on many reports on the climate impacts of livestock based food including: William H. Schlesinger, Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies, US, Peter Scarborough et al. Oxford University, UK, Gundula Azeeez, Soil Association, UK, The UNEP, Mary Hoff University of Minnesota Department of Environment,US, The Environmental Working Group, US, The NHS, UK, The UNFAO, Energy and Resources Group, University of California, US, FCRN, Food Climate Resource Network, Eric A. Davidson, The Woods Hole Research Centre, USA.


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Total Carbon saved on this action 336496 kg CO2e
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  •  Grainne Halligan: 


    If French chefs are prepared to recognise the climate impact of food, and for years they have promoted barbarities like veal and fois gras, then there's hope for us yet. 

    You can read the article here:

    1 point
  •  Biba Hartigan: 


    This article in The Conversation discusses some of the issues around the climate impact of meat production and comes to the following conclusion:

    Perhaps the best approach is try to source your food from local suppliers (to reduce your food miles) who do not use intensive agricultural practices (such as frequent tillage or indoor mass-rearing of animals).

    If you eat meat, choose free-range, grass-fed animals instead of those fed in barns using food from crops. Get to know how your food is produced, and choose the most sustainable options, whether meaty or not. Small choices can help to save our soils.


    -1 point
  •  Biba Hartigan: 

    Read the latest Swedish research which suggests that a 50% reduction in beef and lamb consumption is required to reach European Union climate targets while we can continue to consume pork and poultry. This reinforces the argument for the Climatarian diet. So do tell your friends.

    1 point
  •  Catherine FitzGerald: 

    We cut red meat, wheat and most dairy as a family for health reasons a year ago.  It has virtually eliminated asthma and hayfever and an awful lot of winter flu.  So this has already been successful for us

    - glad to know it's good for our friend mother earth too!

     12.01.20161 replies1 replies 
    1 point
  •  Phillip Carew: 

    In light of the increased awareness regarding methane emissions from cattle, thanks mostly to Cowspiracy because not everyone has access to peer-reviewed science literature, would Milk and even beef have a higher CO2 equivalent value? 

    I'm definitely going to be eating less beef, I've never touched goat, and rarely have lamb because it's pricey here. Who doesn't love chicken anyway! I considered "veganuary" but the climatarian diet seems like a smaller step whilst maintaining protein. I live about 1km from the grocery store so I should certainly add more vegetables to my diet, it's easy to go and get more vegetables should I run out!

    2 points
  •  Matthew Bryan: 

    I’m vegan and try to keep to a whole foods plant based diet. It’s not that I didn’t love to eat meat and cheese but I changed what I ate because I wanted to avoid the chronic diseases that eating animal products cause.

    I also began to understand how bad these things are for the environment. Sure it can be difficult to follow this path at first, but it soon becomes part of who you are and you don’t want to change. But if you don’t want to go vegan I still believe in the value of choosing foods that are less harmful to the environment. And as a climatarian you are becoming conscious of your own impacts. Way to go guys, keep fighting the good fight!

     24.12.20151 replies1 replies 
    3 points
  •  Mairita Luse: 

    The more I think about it, the more sense it makes to me to have CO2 footprint as a mandatory part of the label, especially for food products. I know it is technically hard (especially if you have to include the transportation), but it would change the way people shop.

     18.12.20151 replies1 replies 
    3 points
  •  Elizabeth Helen: 

    I'm just starting on this. I like beef and lamb so will need really tasty alternatives to wean me off them. 

    1 point
  •  Biba Hartigan: 

    I've been a Climatarian for the best part of a year now and I've found it really easy. 

    Personally I love vegetarian food, but I cook for a very diverse meat eating household so it's often easier to cook with meat. 

    I've been feeding this household a Climatarian diet for the past year and no one has even noticed that they aren't getting beef or lamb any more. We never did eat much goat or venison so they aren't missed. 

    It's so easy to replace beef in favourite family meals like spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, chilli con carne and shepherd's pie. I just pump up the flavour with lovely fresh herbs. Extra tomato in italian dishes also helps intensify the flavour. 

    I am phasing in more and more vegetarian and vegan meals with no complaints so far. So generally I feel that the Climatarian diet has enabled me to make a significant reduction to my household's climate impact with very little effort. 

    I've added a couple of recipes that worked for me in the Forum. Why not add your own so we begin to build up a resource of climatarian recipes.

    2 points