Could Adopting A Regenivore Diet Be The Most Important Climate-Positive Step You Can Take?
If ‘climatarian’ – a person whose diet consists of foods that are least harmful to the environment – has been a watchword for climate activists over the past few years, 2023 is seeing the rise of a new term in the sustainable eating space: regenivore.
The expression – hailed as ‘word of the year’ by New York Times food writer Kim Severson – has actually been around for a while, but it’s gaining increasing traction among younger generations, who are embracing it as a new form of daily activism. When you think that, by 2030, “our routine food choices will be climate-directed” – as suggested by a report from consulting firm Kearney – it makes sense.
But what does it mean, exactly? A regenivore is classified as someone who eats in a way that focuses on actively improving the world around us, looking particularly at regenerative farming and the fair treatment of animals and humans alike. Beyond just eating sustainably – plant-based or local, for instance – the idea behind it is that food production should be used to restore the environment, rather than damage it or keep it as is, to create sustainable food systems that can have a positive impact on our lands and crops.
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Regenivores lean into regenerative agriculture – a set of practices that prioritise soil health and biodiversity, emphasising natural processes over synthetic inputs like fertilisers and pesticides, and that uses methods such as cover cropping, crop rotation, and holistic grazing to rehabilitate the farm’s entire ecosystem. Similarly, the movement supports businesses that adopt ethical animal welfare policies when it comes to raising their livestock (i.e. no antibiotics, forced feeding or tiny cages). Being a regenivore doesn’t mean not eating meat, but consuming it from animals that have been raised in a regenerative environment: where they have access to pasture and are treated humanely – as are the people that look after them.
It is the natural progression of a more conscious, sustainable approach to food –and early research suggests it could be a healthier one, too. Regenerative methods and systems have been shown to increase soil organic matter, improve water retention and enhance nutrient cycling, which means their produce has higher nutritional value than anything obtained from conventional farming – in turn, making it better for our bodies. Regenerative agriculture is also beneficial for the environment, as it promotes carbon sequestration and helps mitigate climate change. Sounds good, right?
3 Ways To Take A Regenivore Approach To Your Diet:
1. Consider where you source your meat from – If you eat meat, source it from farms that treat their animals fairly and support the soil on the grazing land through organic fertilising and organisms. Check this via resources such as the Soil Association in the UK, Land to Market in the US (which has created a certification system) and worldwide IFOAM – Organics International, which advocates for organics and has over 700 affiliates in more than 100 countries and territories.
2. Shop from companies that adhere to regenerative farming processes – When buying food, from vegetables to rice and cookies, look for companies that follow regenerative farming in their production processes, such as US-based Simple Mills and Lundberg Farms, or UK’s Hodmedod’s. Think tank Food Tank has a solid list to browse from, while non-profit Regenerative Organic Alliance has developed the Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC), an agricultural certification for soil health, animal welfare and fairness for farmers and workers that can help you check what companies are doing.
3. Ask yourself three simple questions – What’s in my food? Where was it grown? How was it grown? If it didn’t bring any benefit to the soil, animals and people involved in its production, it’s not part of the regenerative trend. Visiting farms and purchasing from community-supported agriculture farms is a good way to get involved first-hand. Reading labels and doing your ‘homework’ on food brands is also key. Not sure where to start? Non-profit A Greener World has a great online directory – and tons of advice.
Marianna Cerini is a freelance writer for publications including Condé Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, CNN Style and Fortune