8 Ways to Make your Diet More Sustainable
Whether you're eating to optimise health, improve performance, or just to survive, we all live on the same planet. The food we consume has a direct impact on the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare. Therefore, it is worth being more mindful of how sustainable our food choices are.
Sustainable food can be identified by several factors such as how food is produced, processed, distributed, and disposed. Pesticides and fertilisers have become heavily relied upon in modern day farming and have taken over more traditional farming practices. Buying highly processed and nutrient-poor foods from big food companies has become the norm, compared to consuming fresh and wild produce which was a staple in our diet since we first evolved.
Food is something we need; we are fuelling our bodies with it multiple times a day and it is impacting the way we feel, think, move and see the world. Food is a great way to try new flavours and learn about other cultures and cuisines and eating more sustainably allows us to be more appreciative of our food we eat. So, the more mindful you are of where the food on your plate comes from the easier it may be to choose the more sustainable options on your next shop.
You may have some pre-existing thoughts that eating more sustainably is more expensive, more time consuming and more effort for little result. But this is not the case and small daily decisions can make a lot of difference. Sustainable foods can become the easy decision if you are aware of the benefits. Below we have shared several ways you can have a big impact on the world through the decisions you make around food.
8 ways we can eat more sustainably
1. Eat more “real” food
Eating more unprocessed foods not only nourishes your body with the vitamins and minerals needed to optimise and sustain your health but it is a great way to protect the planet. Shifting to more of a plant-based diet has many environmental benefits such as reducing the carbon footprint, reducing freshwater withdrawals and deforestation. More processed foods with lots of ingredients can come from all corners of the world which can make the carbon footprint for that product a lot higher. Think about a nutrition bar with a long list of ingredients vs a handful of nuts, which one has minimal processing?
2. Reduce meat and dairy consumption
Meat and dairy production are a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions with livestock requiring more land, food, water, and energy than plants. The medical journal The Lancet reported that global consumption of red meat needs to fall by 50% by 2050 for us to “remain within a safe operating space” on climate change.
It's not appropriate to ask everyone to go vegan tomorrow but reducing our meat and dairy consumption through the week can have a big impact on the planet. A great way to get started is becoming more conscious of how much meat we eat and where it comes from. Cooking one new vegan or vegetarian meal a week is a great goal to start with.
3. Buy locally
Buying freshly grown produce locally is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint, plus you can meet and support your local community that produces your food. This is a great way to learn about how the food you're eating is produced.
4. Mindful eating
One of the best ways to practise sustainable eating is to be mindful of where the food you’re feeding your body is coming from. Food is energy and has a massive impact on your physical and mental health. Looking at the bigger picture may alter your food consumption and reduce food waste which can create a domino effect of seeking more sustainable food sources.
5. Grow your own food
Growing your own food can be so easy. Someone in the smallest apartment can grow their own herbs and even sprouts. Starting a garden is a great way to be sustainable and you can grow so many vegetables! No food miles, no packaging, no fossil fuels plus being surrounded by living plants in your garden.
6. Reduce waste
Planning your meals is one of the best ways to reduce wasted food. Buying fresh produce to only forget or procrastinate on eating it to find it out of date is something that happens to a lot of us but planning our meals can help massively limit buying food you don't need for the week. Another great tip is to use as many left over ingredients as possible, for example throwing any leftover vegetables in soups or stir fry’s.
7. Reduce food packaging
Selecting loose unprocessed whole foods or foods with minimal packaging is a great way to be sustainable as packaging can have a huge impact on filling up landfills. For example, buying bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocados, without the plastic as they already have natural packaging. Drinking from a reusable bottle is also a great way to avoid buying 10+ plastic bottles.
8. Buy in season foods
Eating food, the same time as they are grown means you're supporting locally grown businesses and avoiding foods that have been transported from the other side of the world or grown in a managed condition. Plus, seasonal foods are healthier, fresher and have maximised taste.
To conclude there is no need to stress and turn everything you do to being as sustainable as possible but being more mindful and taking small meaningful steps towards a better world is so beneficial to the world and your health and it can make more of a difference than you know.