START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

7 Green Eating Lifestyles

7 Green Eating Lifestyles

Our food system has a huge impact on the environment, which is why changing the way you eat is one way you can live more sustainably. One fifth of energy consumption in the U.S. is gobbled up by food production.

As most TreeHuggers know, eating local and organic benefits the environment in myriad ways, but perhaps the greenest thing you can eat is your greens. That’s becauseanimal products are particularly energy-intensive and contribute heavily to greenhouse gasses. One study found theproduction of meat and diary contribute far more to greenhouse gasses in the U.S. than the emissions associated with shipping these products around the country.

From freegans to vegans, this glossary of terms shows the many ways people approach eating sustainably.

Flickr/CC BY 2.0

flexitarian could be anyone who isn’t ready to commit to a full-on vegetarian lifestyle, but is reducing his or her meat consumption. The term emerged in the late 1990s to describe someone who is largely vegetarian, but still occasionally consumes meat and animal products.

There are a number of small steps you can take to reduce your meat consumption. A very popular movement isMeatless Mondays, which is exactly what it sounds like: cutting out meat for one day a week. A more aggressive approach is theWeekday Vegetarian, an idea promoted by TreeHugger’s founder Graham Hill. Some people who could be considered fexitarian only eat meat they feel is ethically sourced.


According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term “pescetarian” is a portmanteau that joins the Italian word for fish–pesce–with the English word vegetarian. Pescetarians are people who typically eat seafood, dairy and eggs, but no other meat.

Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian

“Ovo” is derived from the Latin word for egg and “lacto” is derived from the Latin word meaning milk. Ovo-lacto vegetarians don’t eat meat or fish, but consume products produced by animals like dairy and eggs. When someone describes themselves as vegetarian, this is usually what they mean. Many vegetarians also cut out gelatin, found in Jell-O and marshmallows, because it’s made from collagen derived from animal skin, bone or connective tissue.


Vegans avoid animal products more or less completely, but what this includes can vary greatly. Vegans eat an exclusively plant-based diet, which usually means no meat, fish, diary, eggs or honey. Some vegans also avoid animal products in their wardrobes and beauty products, such as fur, leather, dyes made from insects, goose down and wool. The question of how far to take a vegan lifestyle is a much debated subject.

As noted above, raising animals is highly energy intensive, and when done on anindustrial scale usually results in various forms of pollution. So, becoming vegan will likely lower your personal carbon food print. There is also debate about how widely applicable the vegan lifestyle can be, or in other words, what would a vegan world look like?

Just as participating in Meatless Mondays may ease people towards a vegetarian lifestyle, 30-day vegan challenges have been a popular way for many people to test out a plant-based diet.

Raw Vegan

Most raw vegans follow this demanding lifestyle because they say it’s healthier, although there are some cases wherecooked food has been showed to have more nutrients. While TreeHugger has explored thebenefits of low-carbon cooking techniques, eating raw only food may not represent an energy savings because raw foodies will need juicers and dehydrators in order to get sufficient nutrients.

There are few who can manage to sustain this type of lifestyle. Perhaps the ascetic nature of theraw veganism is why it’s often discussed, but infrequently practiced.


A common definition offreegan is “vegan unless it’s free.” Like veganism, it may also extend to purchasing choices for all types of goods. Freeganism is often associated with dumpster diving, but can also be a social choice. For some, being freegan means eating animal products to honor cultural traditions (like Thanksgiving) or when turning down a meaty dish would be offensive.

One of the goals of a freegan diet is to reducefood waste, because 30 percent of the food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten.

Given the nature of globalism, being alocavore is more of an aspirational goal that a widely practiced diet. There are probably few New Yorkers who would be willing to give up coffee, chocolate or other tropical foods. Nonetheless, local eating is a powerful idea that says we should pay attention to the geographic origins of our food as much how it’s produced. Cutting down on the miles food travels reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Eating local foods helps us reconnect to the seasons and nature of our habitats, by asking us to appreciate the plants and animals that thrive in our region. Here’s some great advice on how you can eat local.

Are there terms we missed? Let us know in the comments.

7 Grains to Add to Your Diet
5 Ways to Green Your Diet and Save Money
10 Delicious Vegetarian Recipes

Read more: Food, Green Kitchen Tips, Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian

By Margaret Badore

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love


Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.


+ add your own
4:10PM PDT on Oct 13, 2013

Thanks for posting.

8:36AM PDT on Aug 26, 2013

That was really interesting, with the names of the different ways to eat, thank you very much :)

4:06AM PDT on Aug 14, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

1:52AM PDT on Aug 13, 2013

Nice that an article has recognised freeganism!
I think that is something I will try once I am an adult free to choose my own lifestyle. There isn't a large freegan movement in Australia, but I know it is quite popular in North America and Europe.

7:45PM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Thank you for the informative post.

3:15PM PDT on Aug 4, 2013

interesting, something for everyone to consider

11:19PM PDT on Aug 2, 2013


5:18AM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

Colour our life by introducing colours into our diet

6:53AM PDT on Jul 28, 2013


3:48AM PDT on Jul 28, 2013


add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.