Whether you are an astronaut, dancer, an entrepreneur at CPA Jacksonville, or a blogger choosing a better and more sustainable diet is one of the main ways to improve your health and help protect the planet.
What does it mean to eat a sustainable diet? For your diet to be considered sustainable, food should be produced in ways that protect the environment and has a low impact on natural resources, biodiversity, and ecosystems. A sustainable diet should also be safe, healthy, culturally acceptable, affordable, and, most important, nutritionally adequate.
Food production emissions are more damaging to the environment than transportation gases. To know the sustainability of a food system, we check the water use, land use, and greenhouse emissions.
Other than the impact on the environment, your food choices are also questionable. More people are eating unhealthy food that can be detrimental to their physical health, which leads to many chronic diseases.
So how can you eat healthily and still maintain the health of our planet? Here are some tips for sustainable eating.
Cut out red meat
The environmental impact of producing red meat, mostly beef and lamb take the greatest impact on the top five environmental indicators – degradation of the soil, greenhouse gas emissions, disruption of ecosystems, and water resources.
Production of processed meat such as sausages, hot dogs, ham, or beef jerky delivers the second worst environmental impact, so it’s best to cut out the meat from your diet.
We know that meat supplements most of our protein needs, but you can substitute that with plant-based products that provide the same. Soybeans and soy products (tempeh and tofu), legumes, nuts, whole grains, and seeds are great examples of plant-based foods rich in proteins.
It can be challenging for big meat eaters to go all vegan at once, so it’s more realistic to start small. You can begin with cutting meat from your diet a few days of the week. If you still have to eat meat, organic farms provide sustainable and healthier meat options; you can try those too.
Choose sustainably sourced seafood.
Fish is rich in omega -3 fatty acids, essential for good brain function, heart health, and good vision. However, overfishing is depleting fish stocks in the ocean. There are existing laws that sought to protect ocean habitats by preventing overfishing. Alternatively, farmers are now doing fish farming as a way to support the increasing demand for seafood.
You can buy from these farms, which have salmon, shellfish, and oysters. They are all nutritious sources of omega -3 fatty acids, minerals, and proteins.
Opting for locally grown food can exponentially reduce energy usage, use fewer resources and decrease greenhouse emissions used to transport food for long distances. However, you may negate the benefits if you travel over a long distance to get the local produce, so shop close to your home whenever possible.
Look for grocery stores that have local products or go to farmer’s markets that are close by. If you stay near a farm that runs a community-supported agriculture program, consider signing up. If all these options are not available and you have some space in your backyard, you can grow your fruits and vegetables. Gardening is essential for your mental and physical health, connecting you with nature and keeping you active.
Buy food when it’s in season.
Choosing to buy food when it’s in season is beneficial to you and the environment. Seasonal produce usually travels shorter distances to grocery stores and uses less energy and fuel, creating less pollution than buying out-of-season food.
Buying out-of-season produce is expensive and requires high energy, such as lighting and heating, to grow the food in unnatural conditions. In addition to having a lower environmental impact buying seasonal food is nutritious and tastier.
Buy in bulk
Going to shop in the bulk section of your grocery shop can help reduce extensive packaging waste and save the energy and the resources used to make the packages used to wrap your items.
Some of these packaging items are also made from non-recyclable materials and can impact the environment. To reduce the amount of packaged products you buy, you can also purchase reusable and washable bags that you can be using every time you go out to buy food from the grocery store.
Eat dairy products in moderation.
Dairy and milk products are essential in our bodies because they are rich in calcium, protein, and essential amino acids. They have also been linked to reducing several illnesses such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.
However, as much as dairy products are beneficial to the body, opt to consume low-fat unsweetened products daily but in moderation. It’s also important to limit the intake of high-fat cheeses. If you also choose to eliminate dairy or are looking for alternatives, choose plant-based drinks fortified with calcium, vitamins, and minerals.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are essential in our bodies and promote good health, plus most come with a low environmental impact. Adding more fruits and vegetables to replace snacking and drinks can help reduce your carbon footprint in the environment. Make smoothies and fruit salads to boost your immunity, lose weight and improve your overall health.
Green leafy vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli are rich in various plant compounds that may help reduce inflammation and cancer risk.
Reduce food wastage
Did you know that a third of the food produced around the globe goes to waste? Food production uses a lot of energy and natural resources. When that is wasted, it all goes back to a landfill, contributing to water, environmental, and air pollution.
To avoid wasting food at home, you can make your meals at home and use leftover foods to create other meals instead of throwing them away.
Now that you have tips for eating sustainably, you can now turn them into action.