The Rise of The Regenivore: A New Frontier in Climate Conscious Eating

[ This article is part of our series of articles on sustainable food and eating ]

Diet fads seem to come and go like the tides. Whether it’s Paleo, Atkinsons, Keto, Primal, or Potato, there’s always the latest and greatest diet trend taking the world by storm. Many people experience substantial benefits from these diets, while others may find the restrictions have unintended consequences, or simply aren’t sustainable. But there are also increasingly more philosophically oriented eating habits emerging, many of which are based on longer term trends that may prove to be more enduring. The regenivore diet squarely fits this bill. But what exactly is a regenivore diet and how does it differ from other similar eating philosophies such as climatarianism, or the more broadly known flexitarian diet?

The Regenivore Diet - Beyond Sustaining

Climate and environmentally driven diets are on the rise and the regenivore philosophy finds its roots here. At the heart of this trend is the growing recognition of the tremendous impact what we eat has on the planet. It’s estimated that over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the global food supply system, so eating in a climate conscious manner can have a meaningful impact. The fundamental principle of the regenivore diet is to go beyond simply making choices that are sustainable and pivot to choices that promote regeneration, or healing, of the earth. While many principles are the same, there are some appreciable differences between these various and overlapping food philosophies. Let’s take a closer look at some of the similarities and differences of these related “diets.”

  • Climatarians, flexitarians, reducitarians, and regenivores all focus on: 1) Eating less meat, particularly red meat raised in factory farms that is especially environmentally intensive 2) Consuming less dairy and fewer eggs 3) Eating primarily plants-based foods

  • Flexitarianism is often described as being “semi-vegetarian.” It’s a baseline of vegetarianism with the occasional meat sprinkled in. In contrast, reducetarians make a conscious effort to eat less meat and dairy products, but are still more carnivorous than their flexitarian peers. Micheal Pollan’s famous quote aptly describes some of the core tenets of this eating philosophy: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

  • Climatarianism goes a step further to more explicitly consider the climate impact of foods. While the resulting diet may ultimately look quite similar to a flexitarian or reducetarian diet the motivation is squarely focused on reducing climate impact. A climatarian may consider how far food had to travel to get to their plate, the emissions profile of the source of their meats, or the amount of water required to grow various crops.

  • The regenivore diet goes further still, actively supporting the healing of the planet and ethical food production systems. The regenivore diet aims not just to limit the impact of food production on the environment, but intentionally regenerate nature. Regenivores may consider whether crops are being produced in a manner that promotes soil health, if production methods are using organic principles to limit the use of chemicals and unforeseen side effects, or how animals and workers are treated along the supply chain. Regenivores are focused not solely on limiting the environmental impact of their food choices, but making choices that help the earth recover from some of the damage done to date.

More Than Just A Diet

In many respects being a reducetarian, climatarian, or regenivore is part philosophy and part diet. These movements aren’t solely defined by what you’re allowed to eat as an adherent, but why you eat what you do and what you aim to achieve by doing so. While many diets such as Keto, Paleo, or Potato are strictly health and wellness focused, these movements are more broadly focused on achieving a societal aim. These labels also help to classify movements and motivations that many individuals may already be practicing, simply without a neat name to categorize them. You may find that you’re actually already following a reducetarian lifestyle, or perhaps you’re a full blown regenivore yourself.

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