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Top Climate-Friendly Foods to Add to Your Diet

Did you know that carbon emissions from food could account for up to 30% of your household's carbon footprint? 

Shifting your diet to include more plant-based, climate-friendly foods can be a great way to help reduce your personal emissions. It could save you money, too – according to one study from Oxford, adopting a vegan diet could reduce your grocery bills by as much as 34 percent, and flexitarian diets could reduce it by 14 percent.  

Here are 7 climate-friendly foods we recommend adding to your diet to help save you money and emissions, based on data from Our World in Data.  

Woman cooks plant-based meal.

Lentils and Beans 

Lentils and beans are sustainability champions, emitting a fraction of the emissions of the same portion of animal protein. Just one cup of cooked lentils contains 18g of protein making it a great source of alternative protein. Consider adding lentils instead of meat to dishes to bulk up the meal and lower the carbon intensity.  

Peas 

Looking for a versatile, nutrient-rich, and sustainable way to incorporate more greens into your diet? Try adding peas to your soups, make a pea pesto, or add frozen ones to a green smoothie. Not only does pea cultivation emit very little carbon, but peas also naturally enrich soil with nitrogen, making them a great rotational crop for farmers. Good for you, good for farmers, and good for the environment! 

Nuts 

Nuts are a perfect whole-food snack packed with healthy fats and protein, and they’re also one of the least carbon intense food groups. Try making your own nut milk by blending soaked, raw nuts with water and straining. The leftover pulp can be used to make cookies or muffins for zero-waste cooking. But watch out for almonds – they have the highest carbon and water footprint of any nut, requiring 5 liters of water to produce just 1 almond! 

Tofu buddha bowl.

Tofu 

If you’re thinking of shifting to a more plant-based diet but aren’t sure where you’ll get your protein from, see how you can incorporate tofu into your diet. It’s affordable, versatile, and has a drastically lower carbon footprint than any meat. You can use it as a meat replacement, in desserts, or in meals like stir-fry.  

Nutritional Yeast  

Did you know that, per kilo, cheese production emits more greenhouse gases than poultry and pork farming combined? If you’re considering reducing your cheese consumption, check out nutritional yeast. It’s rich in protein and has a cheesy flavor that makes it a great addition to creamy pasta sauces or as a replacement for parmesan.  

Vegan pasta meal.

Fruits & Vegetables 

Whole fruits and veggies have a drastically lower carbon footprint than any animal product. If possible, incorporate as many as you can into your diet. You can even use them to add mass to meat dishes, thereby reducing the amount of meat you’re consuming. Try adding finely chopped greens and mushrooms to burger meat or meat sauces.  

Seasonal and Local Foods 

Shopping locally and within-season supports small farmers who are more likely to use sustainable agricultural practices. Local produce also doesn’t have to travel across the country to get to your plate, which saves on transportation emissions. So, try and shop locally whenever possible.