How to Lose Weight the Eco Friendly Way: 10 Diets That Help Your Waistline and the Environment

If you get people started about diets, you’re sure to stir up some passionate ideas.

Whether it’s low carb, vegetarian, vegan, primal or local, there are literally dozens of different ways to approach the subject of losing weight and staying healthy. Gurus from each individual diet will inevitably tell you that only their way of eating is the healthy and best choice, and that every other diet might imperil your health.

I’m a fan of Michael Pollan, and I like his Food Rules, although I’ll readily admit I don’t always follow them.

But today’s post is a collection of diets that are healthy for you, and also good for the environment because of a reduced environmental impact.

See if one of these diet choices is something that works for you.

1. The Go Green, Get Lean Diet.

This one is based on a book by Kate Geagan, a registered dietitian. She’s heavy on plants, and light on meat and fish, pointing out the impact that eating them has on the environment. Beef, in particular, comes into her crosshairs.

2. The Kind Diet.

This one is based on a book by the actress, Alicia Silverstone. She’s pro vegan, but she recognizes that not everyone else is, so she presents three different levels in the book. Flirt (where you get started), Vegan, and Superhero. Superhero is actually a level beyond vegan, where you think about things like macrobiotic foods, locally grown, and so forth.

3. The Flexiterian Diet.

Flexi-huh? Flexitarian is basically an attempt to eat more fruits and vegetables and cut way back on meat, fish, eggs and dairy. Many people are aghast at the thought of completely giving up these foods, and eating Flexitarian is a “flexible” approach that let’s you still enjoy some of those foods when you feel like it. This is also known as a semi-vegetarian diet.

It has been covered in USA Today and Newsweek, if you want to learn more. The Mayo Clinic blog also writes about it.

4. A Vegetarian Diet.

The Vegetarian Resource Guide site has a great frequently asked questions page about eating this way.

5. A Vegan Diet.

A vegan diet goes a step further than vegetarianism. Vegans will not eat any animal products including meat, fish, fowl, eggs, dairy, honey, etc. Vegan Action has a good explanation of veganism.

6. A Locavore Diet.

Locavores like to eat food that only comes from a 100 mile radius from where they live. has a good explanation of the concept, and PBS has a great article about 10 Steps to Becoming a Locavore.

7. A Raw Diet.

A raw diet is typically a more hard core approach to the vegan diet, where food is never heated above 116 degrees. There’s a better explanation on CNN also has covered the subject.

8. An Eco Atkins Diet.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the traditional Atkins Diet. It’s the one that’s very big on meat, and doesn’t like carbs and refined sugars. With the Eco Atkins Diet, researchers at the Archives of Internal Medicine wanted to see if they could figure out a low carb diet that would meet the needs of vegetarians or vegans. They discovered that you can lose weight with Eco Atkins, and also improve cholesterol significantly. Learn more on the Atkins site.

9. The Real Foods Diet.

From Twinkies to high fructose corn syrup, there’s a lot of “food” out there that comes from manufacturing things. The Real Foods Diet gets rid of processed foods and sticks to the natural stuff. once again has a pretty good summary.

10. Simple Til Six

This one is a clever twist on the Flexitarian diet. Simple Til Six is a diet where you eat completely vegan until 6 p.m., and then you can eat however you’d usually eat for dinner. It allows you to go out with friends and not be the weird person who can only eat a few things.

So what did I miss?

Leave a comment and tell me about other eco friendly diets that I have neglected to mention!

Cows, cow farts, fertilizer and climate change / global warming

Photo courtesy of rmrayner at

When governments talk about fighting global warming, they put a lot of emphasis on reducing industrial emissions. But, agriculture is responsible for a surprisingly large share of the gases that cause climate change. By some estimates, emissions from fertilizer, animals, and farm equipment account for about 20% of all global warming gases.

Overuse of synthetic fertilizers is a major problem because some of the chemicals in these fertilizers trap heat better than Carbon Dioxide. For instance, Nitrous Oxide can retain 300 times as much heat as CO2. There are many superior organic alternatives, but these account for only a fraction of the fertilizers used today.

Farm animals are another major source of global warming gases. As cows, goats, and sheep digest food, they release a high volume of methane. Cows are responsible for about 75% of all methane made by farm animals. That’s another potent gas behind global warming – Methane is about 25 times better at trapping heat than CO2.

It may be possible to reduce these emissions with big, sweeping government policy. But, if you want to make a difference, change starts in the grocery aisle. The next time you go to the grocery store, consider produce that’s raised with organic fertilizer and leave those slabs of prime rib in the grocer’s freezer. Your body will thank you, and you can breathe easier too!

Photo courtesy of OutdoorAlex at