Food & Diet Sustainable Living

The Sustainatarian Diet

July 25, 2018

Based on my food choices, I often get asked “what I am”.  Part of me wants to respond ‘Human, and you are?’ but I do understand why it can be hard to perceive a diet that doesn’t fall happily into one of the mainstream categories. Based on what types of foods you consume (or don’t) we have come up with these categories (some of which are better known than others):

Carnivore: predominantly eats meat (red & white).

Omnivore: eats both animal and plant based foods.

Pollotarian: eats poultry but no red meat

Pescatarian: eats fish but no other meats.

Vegetarian: eliminates fish and all meats, but still consumes animal by-products like cheese and eggs

Vegan: eliminates all animal by-products (including dairy, eggs, honey etc.)

Raw Food: uncooked, unprocessed whole foods. Nothing pasteurized.

But what about a diet that isn’t only focused solely on the type of food being consumed but rather on the impact that the food has?

I think we need a category that can help people to understand the reasoning behind the choice of an environmentally conscious diet.

Instead of an explanation of all the food groups one chooses to eat or not eat and the long reasoning behind it, the answer could be as simple as saying “I am a Sustainatarian.” Well if you say that to anyone they will probably look at you like you are insane. So what would this said Sustainatarian Diet look like?

What is A Sustainatarian Diet? 

  • opting for foods with low environmental impact (lower carbon footprint)
  • reduced consumption of high impact foods
  • choosing products that use low-impact methods
    • transport, packaging, irrigation etc.

Low Impact

High Impact

·       Buying Local

·       Buying Organic

·       In-season fruits and vegetables

·       Home cooking

·       Recyclable/ Reusable Packaging

·       Industrial Meat & Dairy

·       Single Serving & Plastic Packaging

·       Processed Foods

·       Imported Foods/ Long Distance Shipping

·       Buying non-seasonal fruits and veg


It’s not only about the type of food being consumed. Take this into consideration:

You have the choice between cow’s milk and a plant based alternative. You might say, well dairy is higher impact so if you are a sustainatarian you should choose the rice-soy-almond-etc. alternative. Right? But let’s look a littler closer.

After some research and label reading you discover that the dairy option is a  dairy farmer that sells his milk to his surrounding community in reusable glass bottles. The plant based alternative is shipped 2,000 miles and is packaged a mono-use plastic lined carton. Now which is the more sustainatarian option?

It’s not always so clear cut “Yes, this” and “Not that”.  It’s about making the best choices that will have the lower impact on the environment, not strictly eliminating certain food groups. It’s about knowing that driving for an hour to get an organic veggie burger is contradictory. Maybe that veggie burger was sustainably produced, but now that you drove an hour it’s carbon footprint increases.

I hope that someday a term like this (or any other one that equally describes the idea) will exist so that I don’t have to feel like some kind of alien that was displaced on Planet Earth.

It would be a lot easier to say I am a “Sustainatarian” instead of “Mostly-Veg-Sometimes Fish-But-If-The-Meat-Is-Organic-Sustainable-And-Raised-Fairly-I’ll-Eat-It-atarian”.


What ‘ism’ or ‘arian’ diet type best describes you?


Author: Ali @ Sustainable Psyche

My name is Ali. I am an American living in Italy. I am passionate about delicious food that is also ethical, healthy and sustainable. I love pasta and pizza, traveling, horseback riding and exploring the vibrant city of Milan that I call home.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Claudia July 28, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    I love this philosophy about eating! I would definitely say that I am trying to be a Sustainatarian too! 🙂

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