Eating a sustainable diet has become increasingly important.
We are living through a period of environmental crisis, with global warming and the destruction of wildlife habitats posing serious threats to our planet. However, one way to make sustainable choices in our day-to-day lives is through our diet. By making conscious choices about the food we eat, we can reduce our individual impact on the environment.
But what does sustainable eating mean? And how can you make sure that your diet is helping protect the planet?
This guide will explore these questions, offering practical advice on how to choose environmentally friendly foods for your plate. Let’s get into it:
Choose Local and Seasonal Produce
We have long been obsessed with food; how much we’re eating, when we’re eating, how healthy or unhealthy it is. Anthropological studies indicate that humans were already cooking food around 780,000 years ago.
It’s easy to see our preoccupation with food in modern times, as social media is chock-full of people sharing pictures of their meals, and TV offers a wide variety of cooking shows to watch. This obsession with food is reflected in the games we play; from food-themed board games such as Monopoly Pizza to traditional casino slots incorporating fruit themes or sweets elements. Modern casino slots also give gamers more choice than ever before, reflecting our eclectic tastes with chilies, sushi, and dim sum.
With so much choice in the types of food we eat it’s often difficult to know which options are more sustainable, but keeping it simple is the best way to start. Making sustainable food choices begins with selecting local and seasonal produce. This helps reduce the need for long-distance transportation of food, which has a high carbon footprint.
When it comes to buying fresh produce, choose seasonal items. Seasonal produce provides numerous environmental benefits such as reducing fertilizer and water use, as well as relying less on pesticides to finish the growing process.
To make sure you’re eating locally and sustainably, shop at a farmers market or join a community-supported agriculture program (CSA). Plus, by eating what’s in season you can experiment with new ingredients and recipes for exciting new meal ideas!
Buy Sustainable Seafood
Sustainable seafood is an important part of a green diet. When buying seafood, look for labels such as “wild” and “sustainably sourced” to find fish raised or caught in ways that don’t harm the environment. Here are a few tips to help you make more sustainable seafood choices:
- Choose local and seasonal fish whenever possible. This helps ensure that the seafood you buy was harvested in an environmentally friendly way. Remember, if it’s not in season, it’s probably not sustainable!
- Support fisheries that practice conservation methods such as catch limits and habitat protection. Be conscious about where you buy your fish from.
- Avoid overfished species like Atlantic cod and bluefin tuna. Instead, opt for sustainable alternatives like canned light tuna and wild salmon or tilapia.
Avoid Single-Use Plastics
Single-use plastics pose a threat to the environment. Research suggests that around 8 million metric tons of plastics get dumped into the oceans each year!
The good news is that you can try these ways to help reduce your plastic footprint while shopping and eating:
- Bring reusable bags when grocery shopping
- Don’t buy items packaged in plastic
- Avoid using straws and Styrofoam containers
- Refill water bottles instead of buying disposable ones
- Choose biodegradable cutlery over plastic
Minimize Food Waste
Minimizing food waste is one of the most effective ways to be more environmentally conscious when it comes to eating. According to the USDA, an estimated one-third of the food produced in the United States goes uneaten each year, and when this food ends up in landfills, it contributes to global warming.
So how can you help reduce your environmental imprint? Let’s have a look at some of the ways to waste less food waste:
- Planning for meals and sticking to a shopping list can help you avoid buying more than necessary.
- Cooking too much food and leaving leftovers can help you save money in addition to fewer trips to the grocery store.
- Storing food properly can extend its shelf life and help avoid waste due to spoilage or expiration.
- Composting your leftover food scraps or even starting a home compost pile is a great way to put them back into nature’s cycle instead of filling up landfills with organic matter that could be beneficial elsewhere.
- Investing in quality containers such as mason jars or reusable Tupperware that are BPA-free will help ensure that your leftovers stay fresh longer and make them easier to transport.
Consider a Plant-Based Diet
One of the most effective ways to reduce your environmental impact is by eating a plant-based diet. Here are some ways to achieve that:
- Start small by adding more meatless meals into your routine each week; replace a lunch with a vegan meal or try out some new vegetable recipes for dinner
- Read up on delicious vegetarian recipes online to get inspired with ideas
- Try swapping out animal products for healthier vegan alternatives: tofu instead of chicken, almond milk instead of cow’s milk
- Shop for locally grown produce if possible to reduce your carbon footprint
Eat Less Meat
While meat can provide a lot of essential nutrients, it comes with a hefty environmental price tag. The production of meat, specifically beef, and lamb, generates a huge amount of carbon dioxide and methane, both of which are major contributors to global warming.
In terms of sustainability alone, reducing your consumption of meat can have an enormous impact on the environment. Here are a few steps you can take to reduce your meat consumption:
- Set a personal goal – start gradually by committing to at least one meatless day per week or try Meatless Mondays as your first step.
- Incorporate plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, and nuts into your meals. They’re a great source of protein that doesn’t take as much energy to produce as animal protein.
- Choose green alternatives when it comes to fast food or restaurant meals. Many places now offer vegan/vegetarian options.
Eating sustainably is about being mindful of every step in the process; from the sourcing of ingredients to the disposal of waste. Every step of the way you have the opportunity to make a positive impact and reduce your ecological footprint, whether it’s grabbing a drink or ordering a meal at a restaurant.
Choose organic, locally sourced, and plant-based whenever possible. Incorporate in-season produce and reduce the amount of packaging you use, so that you can boost your immune system while adopting a healthier lifestyle. Compost your food waste. Through these small steps, you could make a big difference!