Climate calculator for your kitchen

Schnitzel, Käsespätzle or would you prefer Spaghetti Bolognese? Here you can calculate how climate-friendly your own recipes are.

Schnitzel, Käsespätzle or would you prefer Spaghetti Bolognese? Here you can calculate how climate-friendly your own recipes are.

Eating more climate-friendly food is not that simple. Is salmon fillet better than mackerel? Should you have cashews for a snack – or would you prefer pistachios? Is lentil soup more climate-friendly than scrambled eggs with fries and spinach? Our interactive calculator shows how much CO₂ a dish causes. You can enter your own recipe or view examples.

Then you will also get an assessment of whether the dish is more climate-friendly or more harmful. It is important to note that emissions themselves are not taken into account for this assessment. It also takes into account how much of our daily nutrient needs are covered by food – for example in terms of fat, protein, but also in terms of nutritional weight. A vessel that covers much of what we need is considered more climate-friendly than one that contributes little. It is therefore possible for dishes with the same CO₂ value to be rated differently. In addition, portions are standardized in such a way that dishes with a very high nutritional value or oversized portions are not automatically more harmful to the climate.

The Eaternity team chose this method because otherwise the result “harmful to the climate” would always be shown to people who eat larger portions. And the nutritional value is normalized so that some dishes with huge mass but almost no nutritional value are not misclassified.

If you are cooking for several people, you can simply mark how many servings the ingredients are intended for. Shows per meal are then displayed on the right.

How are these values ​​compiled? We explain the exact method in this article:

But here we answer the most important questions.

What does the calculator show?

The calculator adds up the CO₂ emissions of individual foods and shows how much CO₂ a dish causes per portion. On the right is shown which ingredients amount to how much in the balance. The calculator shows how acceptable the dish is for the climate – in relation to the nutritional content, portion or calorie content of the food. Depending on the grade, it may vary. The suitability of meals for the climate can best be assessed using nutrients.

So you can see how you can make your food more environmentally friendly with just a few changes. It is often enough to replace one ingredient or use less to significantly improve the CO₂ balance. You can enter your favorite dishes into the calculator – and see which ingredients are the most important.

From farmer to fork to incinerator: What is the composition of the CO₂ value of a meal?

CO₂ emissions result from the journey of food from the field through the factory and wholesale to the plate. All of these steps create emissions – disposal of waste and packaging also causes emissions. The calculator also takes them into account. However, emissions from packaging, transport from home to supermarket and electricity consumption for cooking are not included. The data comes from “Eaternity AG”, a Swiss company that advises restaurateurs and companies on how to calculate their ecological footprint.

How is the average dish on which the rating is based calculated?

Eaternity determined the carbon footprint of 76,034 meals and calculated that an average of 3,994 grams of CO₂ is consumed per day to cover daily nutrient needs. The dishes in the calculator are compared to this value. We rate dishes as good for the climate that cause less CO₂ than comparable average dishes to cover a similar portion of nutritional needs.

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Depending on whether food is compared based on nutrients or calories, some dishes are rated differently despite similar CO₂ emissions. Foods that provide many important nutrients tend to be rated as more climate-friendly. The same applies – in reverse, of course – to the label “bad”. A meal is rated as very good or very poor if it causes less than half or more than double the CO₂, also converted to nutritional value. Comparing climates according to portions and calories, we only show the difference compared to the average dish.

What exactly is CO₂ equivalent?

CO₂ equivalents are a unit that further facilitates the classification of whether food is good for the climate. Because the production of some food emits not only CO₂ but also methane. This is another greenhouse gas that is also harmful to the climate. However, if only CO₂ emissions were calculated, methane would not be included. That would improve the balance sheet.

The calculator takes this into account by not only showing CO₂ emissions, but also so-called “CO₂ equivalents”. Methane gas emissions are converted into CO₂ emissions using the scientific method. This is the only way in which foods can be compared with each other according to their climate footprint.

Season, packaging, CO₂ consumption when cooking: what the calculator does not take into account

The values ​​displayed by the calculator are for orientation. But they definitely aren’t. Since these are average values, it can happen, for example, that the balance of a food product is much better in summer than in winter because it is not imported or because it matures in the sun instead of in a heated greenhouse. The values ​​in the calculator show the average food balance. The average of tomatoes ripened in the Brandenburg sun and their winter specimens from heated greenhouses is calculated. In individual cases, the climate balance can be significantly better or worse than the one shown by the computer.

Even if food is bought unpackaged instead of in a plastic tray, the balance improves. But only a little, because most emissions come from the very beginning: in agricultural production. The tool also does not calculate how much gas or electricity is consumed when cooking a dish.

The climate calculator is part of a series on food and climate. You can watch the latest video about Berlin’s Indian cuisine and its carbon footprint here:

And of course, when it comes to climate protection, not just one meal counts. But on the amount and eating behavior over longer periods of time. Beef fillet (200 grams) can be extremely harmful to the climate with 11,156 grams of CO₂. But a vegetarian diet can be just as bad for the climate over the long term: anyone who eats beef tenderloin once a month, but otherwise eats a particularly climate-friendly diet, consumes about as much CO₂ as someone who eats parmesan cheese every day for a month. Food yields: 11,340 grams (378 grams per 40 gram meal times 30 days).

This is another reason why it makes sense to experiment with a computer. In this way, you can evaluate your own eating behavior based on facts and find out which foods cloud your personal CO₂ balance. Even replacing beef or even pork with chicken can make a big difference. Not to mention tofu.

All articles and videos of the series

Papaya & Fries: New video series

Restaurateur Daeng Khamlao is in an internal conflict. For a Thai-born woman, Asian food is part of her identity. Ingredients are often imported from afar and are therefore not necessarily climate-friendly or sustainable. How can Daeng cook in a climate-friendly way without giving up food from his homeland?

In a new video series produced by Tagesspiegel with the Berlin-based production company Schuldberg Films, she goes in search of a solution to the dilemma. Daeng, who runs the “Panda Noodle” restaurant in Kreuzberg, visits various international restaurants and food experts in Berlin in five episodes and is shown around her kitchen. He is trying to find out: How harmful is any type of cooking to the climate? Can you substitute well-traveled ingredients for Thai, African or Indian dishes with local ingredients? Or maybe it’s not necessary at all? Along the way, he finds unusual dishes – and maybe something from the Berlin kitchens of the future.

In the first episode, Daeng meets food economist Ann-Cathrin Beermann and shows her his own kitchen. It can be seen at or on YouTube.


Published on January 12, 2022.

Last updated on January 31, 2022.

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