How To Eat More Sustainably
If you're here, you're probably wondering how you can eat in a way that does less harm to the planet. As the climate emergency grows more urgent, you may be looking for ways to eat sustainably while still consuming nutritious foods.
We know it can be quite confusing trying to work out which foods are sustainable and how to maintain your own health while thinking about the health of the planet, and so, we've done some research. We've found a few tips and tricks for following a more sustainable diet. Check them out below.
What is sustainable eating?
Before getting into the tips for more sustainable eating, you may be wondering what sustainable eating actually entails. Well, sustainable eating basically means eating foods that are good for you and for the planet. This means foods that don't do damage as they are cultivated or manufactured, foods that are grown in a way that supports a healthy ecosystem, and food that doesn't have a huge carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.
Top tips for sustainable eating
Now you know why the food is better for the health of the planet, read on to find out ways you can ensure you're eating the right stuff.
Eat more plants
Eating more plant foods and less meat and dairy products can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by massive amounts. Meat and dairy production takes up huge amounts of space, water, and animal feed and livestock farming alone makes up around 15% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Meat consumption has a huge environmental impact.
In addition, meat and dairy consumption can also have detrimental effects on your health. High consumption of both can lead to higher cholesterol levels and more risk of many chronic illnesses. Though a vegan diet may be seen as restrictive, if followed well, it can be one of the healthiest diets on the planet. There has also been huge innovation in the world of vegan and plant-based foods, making this diet more accessible than ever before.
It is understandable that many do not want to become vegan or may not be able to and so taking smaller steps is the best option. Why not try meat-free days in your house? Replace a few meals a week with vegan or vegetarian options and see if you can feel the difference. This change will also reduce your carbon footprint too.
If you're struggling to find recipes for vegan options, or are finding it’s more expensive, check out the Frugal Vegan, a vegan recipe book full of nutritious, delicious, and cheap vegan meals to try!
Eat less processed foods
Processed foods require a lot more processing, including more ingredients, more transportation, and more energy. These foods can rack up the food miles as ingredients come in from across the world and they're full of stuff that isn't actually good for you!
Avoiding overly-processed foods with lots of additives, added sugars, and high-fat content can be beneficial for the planet, and for you!
This one is pretty simple: if your food doesn't have to travel as far then it’s not going to release as many greenhouse gases en route. If it comes from the local farmers market then it’s likely to have come from the farm up the road and not across the world.
Buying local also supports the local economy and helps to ensure the vitality of the local environment, including biodiversity.
Buy seasonal foods
Buying seasonal food may mean you miss out on your favourite fruit and veg year-round, but it can do wonders for the environment. Buying seasonal produce is another way to support local producers and it significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Food that is available all year round isn’t necessarily available where you live all year round, meaning it has to be grown somewhere else where conditions are right. This means the food has to travel to you. Eating seasonally doesn't necessarily mean missing out on food you love, it means having variety and experiencing your food at its absolute best.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk is one of the most sustainable options when it comes to food shopping. Not only is it more cost-effective for you in the long run, but it also means you reduce packaging waste and reduce food waste.
We believe buying in bulk is such a good option, we have a whole space dedicated to it! Check out our bulk section and find some really fantastic deals!
Grow your own food
You might have the tiniest garden in the world, or no garden at all, but growing even some of your own food is a fantastic way to reduce your carbon footprint and eat more sustainable foods.
Growing your own foods reduces food miles because, well, it doesn't travel anywhere. It also means you know exactly what has gone into your food. You know what pesticides, fertilisers, and other growth agents you have used, meaning you know what you're eating. Finally, growing your own food can be a therapeutic act and gives you great respect for where food comes from.
Growing your own food can be anything from growing a few herbs on your kitchen side to growing everything you eat in your massive garden. We stock a range of Grow Your Own kits from Urban Green, including this Windowsill Grow Kit and this Kitchen Herbs Kit.
Compost and reduce food waste
Composting is a really great way to make sure that food waste biodegrades properly. When sent to a landfill, this waste does not biodegrade correctly due to incorrect conditions. If you compost your waste, you can use it in your own garden, or find a local pickup, meaning your waste goes to use.
If you don't have a garden or facilities to compost, you can reduce waste in other ways. Making sure to store leftovers correctly and then eating them, or using food scraps in cooking are both good ways to reduce food waste. Using scraps to make homemade stock is a great way to reduce waste and reduce salt intake!
You should also check best by dates on food to make sure you eat it before it goes off, store opened products properly, and don't overbuy so that less food goes to waste in your house.
As organic food advocates, we believe everyone should be eating it! Not only does organic food encourage healthier soil, but it is also better for you.
Organic farming means no chemicals are allowed. This means, no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or other growth agents, no GMO crops, and no antibiotics. All food is cultivated and raised naturally meaning that no chemical residue is left on it. This chemical residue can be found in lots of conventionally farmed products and is damaging to human health.
As well as human health, organic farming is better for the planet. That chemical residue we discussed that is bad for humans is also bad for the planet. It runs off of crops and into waterways, soil, and the surrounding environment. This can reduce biodiversity in the area, harm marine populations, and reduce the health of the soil.
Organic farming means healthier soil which is more nutrient-rich, and the more nutrient-rich the soil, the more nutrient-rich the food that grows in it. This means organic crops are also more nutritious! Organic eating is key to healthy diets!
Avoid plastic packaging
Avoiding plastic food packaging means reducing your waste production and helping to reduce the plastic pollution that is causing havoc in marine ecosystems around the world.
Choosing to avoid plastic packaging at the grocery store is made easier with cotton produce bags, like these from Ever Eco and by carrying a cotton shopping bag, like these from Apple Green Duck, meaning you can say no to plastic bags too.
Avoid palm oil
Palm oil production has been linked to massive deforestation which contributes to climate change and has a global environmental impact. Avoiding palm oil can ensure you're not contributing to this. Alternatively, you can look for products that are using sustainable palm oil.
Eating sustainable foods is more than just ensuring you don't contribute further to climate change, it is also about changing consumer demand. By changing what we buy, we can make changes in how food is produced and the environmental impacts it has.
Eating more sustainably is better for you and better for the planet, and with these few tips, you can eat more sustainably easily!
Frequently asked questions
What are examples of sustainable foods?
There are lots of sustainable food options for you to choose from. Generally, sustainable food has a smaller carbon footprint and does not take up lots of energy in production. Some examples include:
- Organic vegetables
- Leafy greens
- Organic fruit
How do you eat sustainably?
Eating sustainably means lots of different things but there are a few tips and tricks to eating more sustainably listed below:
- Eat more plant foods and reduce meat consumption
- Eat less processed foods
- Eat seasonally
- Shop locally
- Buy in bulk and reduce packaging waste
- Reduce food waste and try to compost
- Buy organic
- Grow your own food
What is a sustainable food diet?
Generally, eating sustainably means choosing food that has less of an environmental impact and contributes less to climate change. This means food that doesn't have to travel as far, doesn't use lots of energy in production, food that is grown naturally, food that is seasonal or local, and food that does not take up lots of space and water to grow.