4 Proteins That Support Your Climatarian Lifestyle

by Tiffany Naticchioni, RDN, LD

Last Updated: March 1, 2021

A climatarian lifestyle is when someone bases their lifestyle choices off of the carbon footprint created from the production of an item. This includes all resources used to create this item and can impact what car to purchase, what clothes to wear, and what food to eat. When choosing food that fits into a climatarian lifestyle, meat has one of the largest carbon footprints, with beef and lamb having the largest. Environmental impact is measured by emissions generated from the energy, fertilizer, and land used to grow food for these animals. Climatarians believe these meats should be consumed only on a special occasion, if at all, due to their significant impact on our planet. While the earth’s impact must be considered, we also must contemplate how a climatarian diet may impact someone’s nutrition regimen and health.

According to The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, healthy adults should eat proteins from various sources, including seafood, dairy, grains, legumes, and meat or meat alternatives. Since protein comes from a wide variety of foods, it is possible for someone leading a climatarian lifestyle to get sufficient protein in their diet while making choices friendly for the earth. Protein is important for maintaining lean body mass (muscles and tissues), balancing blood sugar, and protecting the cardiovascular system by limiting saturated fat intake. If you’re trying to decrease your consumption of high carbon footprint animal protein sources but still want to eat adequate protein, try enjoying some of these foods to stay nourished and satisfied.
  1. Poultry
    Chicken and turkey are popular proteins and show up in many dishes every day. You can get great quality protein and in the recommended amounts in just three ounces of chicken breast. By choosing chicken over beef just once a day, the average American can dramatically reduce their carbon footprint by almost half.
    • Try measuring your cooked portions on a food scale to see what your normal portion sizes look like and if they are that three-ounce recommendation. If you are consuming more than this and looking to decrease your footprint, you can decrease this serving size to three ounces. Try to add fruits and vegetables to the meal for additional volume when reducing protein portions.
    • Ground poultry and meats are a great way to get these nutritious foods into meals. Aim for the recommended serving size of 3 ounces or less, and try adding low carbon footprint foods like riced cauliflower or chopped mushrooms in half and half quantity with your ground meat.
  2. Seafood
    Salmon, tuna, and cod are all popular seafood choices that offer around twenty grams of protein per three-ounce serving. These seafood options are both delicious and nutritious and can be prepared with almost any flavor profile using herbs and salt-free spices. Additionally, they contribute significantly less to the carbon footprint as fishing doesn’t require farmland or livestock care.
    • Try adding salmon to your weekly routine once or twice as this will work to boost your intake of Omega-3 unsaturated fats that benefit your good cholesterol and heart health.
  3. Ground Meatless Crumbles and other soy alternatives.
    They are heart-healthy as they have no saturated fat and contain an excellent source of fiber with six grams per one cup serving.
    • Try these ground beef alternatives in chili, tacos, or spaghetti sauce. They replace ground meat well in foods that are seasoned since they are flavor neutral and take on the flavor of the seasoning used. There is also no need to brown meatless crumbles as they can be purchased frozen and heated to temperature before eating.
  4. Legumes
    In just one-half cup of cooked beans or lentils, you can meet over half the recommended protein amount per meal. They are a double whammy of nutrition, as they are also a good source of fiber, which combats heart disease and promotes a healthy gut for digestion and immunity.
    • Add legumes into soups, salads, or mix in with your other grains. Use herbs, citrus, and salt-free spices to enhance these nutritious protein sources’ flavor. Offset meat consumption by using beans to create a half bean and half meat protein meal.

Protein intake is important and can be done in a healthy way, even when reducing meat intake. While doing your part to reduce the carbon footprint, try these tips to enhance variety at meals and improve your health. For more tips on planning delicious and nutritious meals, visit Kroger.com, search recipes, and filter for plant-based meal recipes or vegetarian/vegan as the diet preference.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Tiffany Naticchioni, RDN, LD

Tiffany Naticchioni, RDN, LD

Tiffany is a compassionate dietitian with experience in nutrition throughout her lifespan along with empowering those with diabetes and heart disease to use food as medicine. A believer in total body wellness, she has a decade of experience as a licensed massage therapist. With a passion for healthy living, she practices hot yoga, enjoys most any fitness activities, stays active in the community, and loves spending time with her family.