A concern for the environment has led to the emergence of the climatarian diet, which is all about eating food that’s not just good for you, but also helps reduce carbon footprint. How to adapt one? Environment enthusiasts, nutritionists, and experts weigh in
How often do we stop to think about the foods we’re eating and the impact it has on the environment? As we deal with a rise in populations, many are increasingly looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint, especially through their food choices.
Let’s start with a quick know-how of what a climatarian diet is — it is mainly eating foods that are healthy, that don’t have high greenhouse gas emissions, are environment- friendly and focus on consuming less
meat, dairy, and choosing produce that is sustainably sourced. No, it’s not the same as a plant-based diet, it’s more about making sustainable lifestyle swaps. For instance, reducing your consumption of industrially-processed meat, choosing wild-caught fish over farmed varieties, opting for locally-
sourced, organically-grown veggies and fruits over imported ones to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, choosing reusable materials over plastics, and trying to adopt a zero-waste food philosophy, among other options.
Consultant chef duo Anushka Malkani and Nariman Abdygapparov, who run Whisk With Us, moved back from France to Mumbai about a year ago, keeping sustainability at the core of what they do. Malkani, in fact, personally follows the climatarian diet too. “Being climate-friendly was an easy decision,” says Malkani, talking about witnessing food wastage and wanting to do something about it. She adds that even seasonal produce like strawberries and mangoes would be available year-round in Europe, which made her rethink what she was consuming, and its effect on the environment.
The duo is now in the process of launching a bakery in Mumbai where over 60 percent of the produce is sourced from within a 500 km distance, including Malkani’s family farm in Lonavala.
According to Shriya Naheta Wadhwa, a health coach and founder of Zama Organics, an organic grocery start-up, up until a few years ago, people were unaware about the great quality produce grown locally in India. But that’s slowly changed, and there is a greater appreciation for such ingredients. “I do feel a majority of people are eating organic because they think it is healthier for them and not because of the environment itself,” she points out. To be more climate-friendly, Zama sources most of its veggies and greens from within Maharashtra while fruits are sourced from other parts of the country — all shipped
using rail services and no air.
Hotel chains, resorts, and even restaurants have taken several steps towards making a change that’s
environmentally better. Luxury resort, Six Senses Fort Barwara in Rajasthan has a plastic-free goal for 2022, which also extends to its F&B program. “We’ve been reducing and avoiding single-use plastic in our restaurant and kitchen operations. For instance, dry food items are no longer being stocked or procured in 1kg plastic bags, instead we use cotton material bulk bags for lentils, chickpeas, or pasta.
Additionally, we’ve just started our own aeroponic farm system to grow lettuce and other fragile ingredients, thus cutting down on transport. We are also starting an initiative to focus on Indian produced wine, rather than imported from overseas,” says Marius Ackermann, executive chef, Six Senses Fort Barwara.
At the ITC Grand Central in Mumbai, the hotel follows a farm-to-plate concept and also offers a ‘local love’ menu featuring regional specialities from Maharashtra made with locally-sourced ingredients. The hotel also offers what it calls zero-mile water or Sunya Aqua, which is treated and purified within the hotel itself.
Chef Sandeep Sreedharan who helms Elaa, an earth-friendly café in Goa, focuses on responsibly-sourced produce and indigenous ingredients. The menu doesn’t feature meat and the seafood is locally caught, instead of top-of-the-food-chain-fish. “It’s important that we embrace what is available to us,” he points out.
The alarming rate at which global warming is changing the face of the earth also means we need to rethink how we approach food and sustainability. For climate change activist Aakash Ranison, it starts with taking small steps like offsetting your carbon and methane footprint, which are the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Ranison strictly follows this diet for environmental reasons.
1) Stick to local fruits and veggies over exotic ones
2) Avoid processed foods as much as possible. This diet encourages good use of nutritious food, so consume millets like bajra and jowar rather than packaged oats. Eat more seeds, nuts and local Indian spices, than oregano and chilli flakes
3) Purchase fruits and vegetables from a local market instead of buying packaged ones