Choose Paleo Diet and Your Carbon Footprint Goes Up

Made popular in the 1970s, the Paleo Diet continues to gain followers and acceptance into mainstream America. Proponents believe it to be the healthiest diet for humans, and, according to expert-paleo Robb Wolf’s website, “the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic!” Paleos believe in meat, and lots of it. If it was good enough for the cavemen, it should work for modern man, right? But with the emphasis on eating carnivorously, one has to wonder, how good is the Paleo diet when it comes to living responsibly and reducing your carbon footprint?

First, lets get a grasp on what exactly a Paleo diet is. gives a handy list of what and what not to eat. Lamb, organs, venison and other meats are fine, as are all fish, fish eggs, nuts and seeds. If you want to lose weight, as many on Paleo diets do, eat any vegetables except starchy ones like sweet potatoes, and also limit your fruit intake. Oh, and eggs from any source are great, so pick up some emu eggs the next time you’re at the store. Strictly banished from a Paleo’s kitchen are all grains, legumes, and dairy. gives a typical meal plan for a Paleo eater. In one week, the plan outlines eating a dozen eggs, 7 servings of beef, and at least 5 meals with bacon or sausage. It also includes tuna, salmon patties, chicken, pork chops, and one cheat meal. This doesn’t include snacks, which are often beef jerky or eggs. That’s a lot of meat Ė often more than one serving per meal. To its credit, the Paleo guide encourages lots of vegetables, green tea and healthy fats from coconut oil and nut butters.

Critics say this is too much meat, and they have some worrisome statistics behind them. The Environmental Working Group’s handy “Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health” attempts to break down exactly what eating meat does to the environment. If a family of four skips steak one day a week, the guide says that will have the same impact as taking your car off the road for three months. If you eat one less burger per week, the same effect is achieved as driving your car 320 miles less. The group says that lamb, beef and cheese are the worst in generating greenhouse gases, with beef generating more than 13 times as much as vegetable proteins like lentils.

Along with producing many more greenhouse gases than a more traditional diet, U.S. News & World Report recently released its report on the best and worst diets of 2013, and the Paleo diet did not fare well. It got only two out of a possible five stars across the board in ratings, from its overall effectiveness to weight loss to safety. The diet was judged by 22 experts in the fields of diet and nutrition. Because Paleo diets often dramatically differ, no reliable, large-scale study can give good information on Paleo follower’s claims their diet promotes wellness.

Combine the increased carbon footprint, low rankings, and then stories like “Human Ancestors Were Nearly all Vegetarians” from Scientific American that call into question the basis of a Paleo’s thinking that primal man ate mainly meat, and the Paleo diet starts looking less and less appetizing.


Also Read:

Paleo Diet Taken To Extremes

Five Tips on How to Start a Caveman Diet

The Real Paleo Diet


by Sarah Shultz for Diets in Review


Jacksoneric J.
Jacksoneric J.3 years ago

I even have been getting a lot of helpful and informative material in your web site.

Joana Ramiro
Joana Ramiro3 years ago

Reading this, I realise most people do not understand what the Paleo/Evolutionary Diet actually stands for.
We are not trying to mimic the way of life of the Cavemen, we are eating as omnivores (which is what we are - not vegetarians).
I'm sorry, but grains, dairy, and legumes make me sick (yes, I do mean it in a health way) and from the moment I started eating meat and eggs at every breakfast, consuming berries, eating more vegetables, and stopped with the bread (and gluten in general), milk products, and legumes... I have never felt better!
I am more alert and I think faster, my acne is gone, I am gradually losing the extra volume and my freaking muscles have toughened up (I do not even exercise).
If this doesn't mean anything then I don't know what will.

Humans are not vegetarians. We never were. We never will be.
I respect that you do not wish to consume meat and choose to lack vitamins your body needs, but do not shame my eating habits just because you like yours better.

Interstellar Daydreamer
Sky Price4 years ago

sounds ridiculous.

Vanessa Gil
Vanessa Gil4 years ago

Im sorry but were not talking about factory farmed meats here, were talking about organic grass raised animals, theres a huge difference between the ecological footprints of both, one is as nature intended so 0 carbon footprint unless you count transportation (which would be equal to that of vegan food) and the other witch has a huge impact all the way from the growing of GM grains to feed the poorly treated mass medicated high methane producing animals that are NOT recommended on a paleo diet
coca cola, palm oil and GMO's are all vegan! do we think of that when comparing the sustainability of our diets?

Dale O.

Giving up grains? love whole grains. Not really interested in 'diets', one can follow a balanced organic diet and practice moderation.

Hardly see cavemen eating sausage and bacon. Nothing wrong with small amounts of organically raised meat, people often eat too much. Teresa W, there can be a methane effect from even veggies tossed out in the landfill as food wasted daily on the planet adds up when people toss foods they waste into the landfill.

Yes, Sue H...they do!

Laura Saxon
.4 years ago

People shouldn't eat so much meat. Animals die to make our meals.

Ro H.
Ro H5 years ago

ribs yum

Kate S.
Kate S5 years ago


Luann L.
Luann Lilley5 years ago

I like my beef, but wow thats a lot of meat.

steve l.
Past Member 5 years ago

Human beings are designed by nature to be vegetarians. In other words, the human body runs mainly of carbohydrates, not protein.