Here's How 6 Diets Rate With the Planet, Your Body

We have one very clear loser in both categories
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2023 3:17 PM CDT
Does Your Diet Have the Highest Carbon Footprint?
Vegan fried chicken made by Azaria Drakeford at the Coventry Winter Farmers' Market in Coventry, Conn.   (Shawn Rychling/Journal Inquirer via AP)

You are, allegedly, what you eat, and what you eat can have an impact on planet Earth. Treehugger predictably would like you to have less of a footprint and maybe guilt you a little bit, and takes the opportunity to look at six popular diets and their environmental impact vis a vis a Tulane University study out this month: keto, Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and probably the most popular, omnivore (which includes both plant and animal foods). The study looked at the diets of 16,000 to do two things: Assign a carbon footprint to each, along with the best diet quality. There was one clear loser in both categories, and some not-bad news for omnivores, which made up 86% of the study. Without ado:

Most planet-friendly diets

  1. Vegan (generates 0.7kg of carbon dioxide per 1,000 calories consumed)
  2. Vegetarian (1.16kg)
  3. Pescatarian (1.66kg)
  4. Omnivore (2.23 kg)
  5. Paleo (2.6kg)
  6. Keto (2.91kg)
"A lot of people are interested in moving to a plant-based diet,” says study author Diego Rose, nutrition program director at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. "Based on our results, that would reduce your footprint and be generally healthy. Our research also shows there’s a way to improve your health and footprint without giving up meat entirely."

Best nutritional quality diets

  1. Pescatarian (58.76 rating on the Healthy Eating Index)
  2. Vegetarian (51.89)
  3. Vegan (51.65)
  4. Omnivore (48.92)
  5. Paleo (45.03)
  6. Keto (43.69)
Read the full study. (Or check out other notable lists.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.