How the Low-Carbon Diet Reduces Your Carbon Footprint

Do we need to go on a diet to save the planet? Not quite. 

We’re sure as soon as you saw the word “diet,” you were probably tempted to click away. 

Thankfully this diet doesn’t require an app or calorie trackers. In fact, the low-carbon diet is unlike any other diet you’ve ever tried. 

While the low-carbon diet focuses on reducing your carbon footprint, you’ll find that it also benefits your health and saves you money. 

Let’s explore the low-carbon diet and why it might be the easiest diet you’ve ever tried. 

What Is the Low-Carbon Diet

The low-carbon diet is an environmentally conscious diet that takes into consideration the amount of carbon produced and embodied in each meal we eat. 

Most low-carbon diets emphasize reducing our meat consumption and food waste while prioritizing fresh fruits and vegetables that are locally grown. 

A low-carbon diet incorporates all aspects of eating and food production, such as where food comes from, how much of it we eat on our plates, and how much carbon it takes to make it to our plates. 

But one question many of you still might have is: how important is what we eat to the planet?

How Our Diet Impacts Our Carbon Footprint

Food production and consumption are responsible for ⅓ of global greenhouse gasses

Most of those emissions come from land use, with most of that land use devoted to livestock (80%)

According to Joseph Poore from the University of Oxford, cutting out meat consumption alone could reduce the average consumer’s carbon footprint by around 28%.

However, our diets impact the planet in more ways than one, and there are several ways that food production impacts the planet. 

Embodied Carbon

Embodied carbon represents the amount of carbon required to produce something. 

Most of the carbon emitted as a result of food arises in the production stage from planting, rearing, and harvesting crops and livestock. In addition, the amount of carbon used to produce products like pesticides and fertilizers also compound the amount of carbon used to produce our food.

Naturally, some of this is unavoidable. We all need to eat. But some foods offer less carbon than others, such as legumes and beans, which require less carbon to harvest than meat or dairy products. 

Calculating the amount of carbon used to produce each meal using a foodprint calculator will help you make smarter decisions that are better for the planet.  

Food Waste

Food waste incorporates embodied carbon and the methane released as food rots at the landfill. 

Between 30-40% of food waste occurs before it hits the market, meaning that consumers have a major opportunity to reduce their emissions by reducing food waste at home and restaurants.


It’s easy to forget that most foods are seasonal when they can be purchased year-round. However, buying food out of season means it’s either shipped globally or grown artificially in a greenhouse. 

Both scenarios require significantly more carbon to produce than foods grown in-season that are fresher and healthier. 

Transportation and Shipping

Lots of products found at the grocery store are grown and shipped overseas. For this reason, buying local foods will require less carbon to transport. 


Finally, the packaging food is sold in carries a massive carbon footprint. Glass tends to have the highest footprint, but plastic is not much better. 

The Benefits of a Low-Carbon Diet

While a low-carbon diet is mainly designed to limit your carbon footprint, a low-carbon diet benefits you in several ways.

First, a low-carbon diet prioritizes fresh foods grown locally and in season. This is a healthier dietary approach than processed foods but is also more affordable on average. 

Perhaps most importantly, a low-carbon diet requires little to no sacrifices. Unlike diets that make you sacrifice carbs or sugars, a low-carbon diet is only designed to restrict carbon emissions.

As a result, you can eat virtually anything you want as long as you attempt to find solutions that are better for the planet and reduce your waste. 

With that said, let’s discuss what comprises a low-carbon diet so that you can plan ways to reduce the carbon emissions from your diet. 

The 5 Basic Elements of a Low-Carbon Diet

Reduce Meat and Dairy Consumption

According to the UN, meat, and dairy products are solely responsible for 14.5% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. 

Shopping for plant-based alternatives can help you greatly reduce your carbon consumption and eat healthier. Of course, this doesn’t mean becoming vegetarian or vegan, but replacing one or two animal-based meals a week with a plant-based meal can make a huge difference. 

Reduce Food Waste

Food waste is another major source of carbon emissions that are entirely avoidable from the consumer’s end. 

A couple of ideas to decrease your food waste include:

Ultimately, you want to eat what you buy and plan what you buy, so you don’t waste any ingredients that go bad in your fridge. You will also save lots of money by finding ways to reduce your waste. 

Eat Local

Eating locally grown foods helps support food networks in your community and limits the amount of transportation required to produce food. 

Locally grown foods also tend to be fresher, last longer, taste better, and are more nutrient dense. 

Additionally, if you are celebrating or just want to eat out, keep this in mind as well and walk to the restaurant. 

Avoid Processed Foods

We recommend avoiding heavily processed foods, which require several ingredients and produce more carbon emissions. 

Highly processed foods have also been linked to an increased risk of cancer and are generally bad for the planet, which is another reason to eat fresh foods instead.  

Purchase Fruits and Vegetables in Season

Finally, buying fruits and vegetables that are in season will help you reduce your carbon footprint and support local communities. Seasonal foods are also more nutrient dense and tend to be more affordable. 

In our transition to a Clean Energy Life, it’s not always about making giant leaps, like buying new EVs or solar panels. Sometimes, simple modifications, such as watching what we eat, can significantly impact our carbon footprint. 

For more ways to promote a low-carbon and Clean Energy Lifestyle, read our next article on reducing your food waste.

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