Dieting is an activity that will never go away. When it comes to what we put in our bodies, people’s tastes are as different as the cultures they come from. Some people modify their diets to loose weight, some people do it for health reasons, others may do it for religious reasons, and some may be concerned with the planet’s or animal welfare.
When it comes to popular diet plan, some, however, are more eco-friendly than others. In general, those lower in animal products rank higher due to the ecological cost of meat products. Here are ten popular diet plans, ranked from words to best, for those considering changing their eating habits for the planet’s benefit.
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1. The Carnivorous Diet
Also known as “the zero-carb diet,” this diet plan is the least eco-friendly diet if you consider its ecological impact.
It requires the elimination of all carbohydrates. People following this plan cut out all plant matter from their diet, eating only meat and animal products such as dairy and eggs.
Despite claims that this diet is good for certain health conditions, such as inflammatory pain conditions like arthritis, most licensed nutritionists wouldn’t recommend you eat this way. Red meat has been linked to increased risks of other conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and strokes.
It also contributes to the destruction of the rainforest to make space to raise cattle.
2. The Atkins Diet
In terms of where they rank, both Atkins and keto have the same ecological footprint. The main difference between the two, is that while keto is very fat heavy, Atkins is more focused on proteins. This edges it out from keto just enough on the eco-friendliness scale.
As far as health, they can both help you lose weight quickly, but at a hefty cost to the environment.
3. The Keto Diet
Another diet on the low-carb end of the scale, keto also allows for generous amounts of red meat consumption. This is not eco-friendly.
While it is possible to be vegetarian, even vegan, and still keto friendly, the majority of those following the keto diet enjoy large amounts of steak. If you are considering this plan, make it friendlier by choosing proteins like fish instead of beef.
4. The Paleo Diet
This diet is better than those above, edging towards the middle of the scale. Paleo does allow for meat consumption, but unlike keto, doesn’t focus on it. Like keto, it can be modified to fit a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
The focus of this diet is returning to the basics, what our caveman ancestors would have eaten. It focuses primarily on lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, and even meat.
The health benefits include reducing things like artificial sweeteners, flavorings, and colors. Essentially, anything processed is a no-go. This makes the plan beneficial to those concerned with the damaging effects of certain foods.
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5. The Dash Diet
This diet is designed for those trying to reduce their blood pressure. It decreases sodium consumption and ups the consumption of magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
The name is an acronym for “dietary approach to stop hypertention,” hypertention being the medical name for high blood pressure. Because it is heart healthy, it tries to steer clear of red meat. It does allow for the consumption of poultry, fish, and dairy; but can also be modified to be more vegetarian and vegan friendly.
6. The Swank Diet
This eating plan is similar to the Mediterranean diet. It was designed to treat patients with multiple sclerosis by Dr. Roy Swank.
It is tough to top the health benefits of this diet. It requires the limiting of processed food, red meat, and most fats and oils. it emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables. It does allow for whole grains and rice, in moderation.
7. The Mediterranean Diet
This diet is not only another health powerhouse but as an added bonus, is pretty kind to the planet.
The Mediterranean diet is high in whole grains, healthy oils (such as olive), eggs, fish, poultry, and dairy. It can also easily be modified to support little-to-no animal product consumption.
A recent study of people in 195 different countries revealed that the biggest risk factors when it comes to premature death are poor diet and malnutrition. The study’s authors recommend the Mediterranean diet to preserve your health.
8. The Flexitarian Diet
As the name suggests, this a flexible diet. However, it strives, as much as possible, towards a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. While “flexitarians” allow themselves to eat meat, they reserve it for special occasions and don’t make it part of their daily life. For the most part, flexitarians stick to fruits, veggies, whole grains, and dairy and eggs (for some.)
9. The Vegetarian Diet
When it comes to being eco-friendly, any diet that shies away from animal products tends to rank high on the scale. Dairy and egg products have their issues, but they aren’t as damaging as raising livestock for slaughter. Plus, many people who follow diets like these for the environmental benefits like to try and product their own dairy and eggs. These usually come from humanely-raised backyard goats and chickens, or they research the farms their purchases are coming from more than the average consumer.
The vegetarian is compatible with other diets on the list. It is possible to live a vegetarian diet and stick to a specific eating plan, such as paleo or keto.
10. The Vegan Diet
The most eco-friendly diet a person can follow is the vegan diet. Individuals who follow this diet not only shy away from eating meat but will not use any byproducts either. Some vegans take it so far, they will not lean against a leather couch.
Not only is this diet the friendliest for the planet, it is the friendliest to those we share the planet with.
The biggest challenge to being vegan is consuming enough calories and getting enough protein to fulfill nutritional needs. They can combat this by eating high calorie snacks like mixed nuts or avocado toast. By doing so, vegans can get all of the nutrition they need from plant-based sources.
While people the world over have been realizing some diets trump others in health and eco-friendliness, the be as earth friendly as possible reduce your meat consumption, especially red meat. This will keep the planet healthy for generations to come.