Sustainability As A Way of Life
Why is it important to develop sustainable eating habits? Eating sustainably is rooted in how WE as individuals affect the environment through food production and consumption. It means being conscious of the production process of animal and plant farming.
To focus on eating sustainably, look towards options that work to conserve natural resources and minimally impact our environment! Through indulging in more sustainable food options, we can maintain a healthy relationship with both our bodies and the Earth.
1. Eat More Greens!
Along with improving the overall health of your body, adopting a more plant-based diet significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). So eating more greens really is a double win! Of course, this lifestyle is totally a personal choice. But I can vouch for the fact that it has made me feel more energetic, lively, and happier! And that’s just because I’m more conscious of what I’m putting into my body.
In eating more plants, we offer our bodies natural vitamins that processed food and animal products seldom provide. Aside from benefiting our personal health, plant production, compared to animal farming, is considerably more eco-conscious. So in opting for those greens, you’re also doing good for the environment.
Indeed, the research supports it! A plant-based diet uses substantially less of our natural resources. Now that doesn’t mean we need to eat salads for every day of our lives! It just means we should make more of a collective effort to incorporate more plant-based items into our diet.
It could be as simple as adding fruits, beans, and/or veggies to your usual meal. Try substituting meat where you can. Or just eat less of it by upping the veg. It’s as easy as tossing in some steamed carrots or broccoli!😋
2. Avoid High-Processed Foods
Processed foods are widely known for their lack of nutritional value. Like all food, processed food has a production process. No surprises here. What makes it different from grown food however, is the multitude of added chemicals used. And that’s in addition to the energy-intensive production process itself.
Since food production is currently responsible for nearly 20% of our GHGs, it makes perfect sense to tackle it! We can opt for healthier, more sustainable options. You don’t even have to look very far! For example, why not consider these simple, healthy alternatives to everyday processed foods. These simple substitutions have far less of an environmental impact.
Quick Win Alternatives
- Replace bacon – which is high in fat and added salt- with avocado. It’s a tasty alternative with loads of healthy fat.
- Replace granola bars – that have all kinds of added sugar – with your own! The recipe I use is Ottolenghi’s ‘Soft date and oat bars.’ Making your own granola bars means knowing everything that goes into them.👌 You can also use old grains and nuts to make them extra yummy!
- Replace readymade and microwave meals with frozen leftovers saved for lazy days such as these.
3. Eat Less Meat
Animal products are at the forefront of food production’s GHG emissions. With animal farming taking up a ton of space, water, and resources, skip the middleman and refer back to my first tip – eat more plants! I understand that it’s not always easy to find alternative options for meat. Or that it’s that easy figuring out how to cook tofu to an appealing extent. But is possible!
Alternatively, I would simply suggest to cut down on your meat consumption! An average American eats around 10 ounces of meat a day.😲 That’s DOUBLE the amount that nutritionists recommend. So in cutting down on meat, you’re really creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself. In the process, you’re also working towards promoting a healthy world.
4. Reduce Your Food Waste
In Canada alone, over two million tons of food is wasted each year from restaurants, supermarkets, and households! Going straight to a landfill, food waste is the cause of 20% of Canada’s methane emissions.
Even as individuals, we can totally help cut back on this waste. For instance, try bringing home what you can’t eat from a restaurant, or try opting for the imperfect-looking produce from your local grocery store. It will most likely end up in the garbage otherwise.
On an at-home level, make a meal plan! This will help ensure that you’re only buying what you know you’ll eat. Freezing any of the leftovers or large meals is wonderful for future lazy days and lunches. When it comes to food scraps, invest in a compost bin and give back to the Earth – it’s also perfect for garden lovers!
5. Build A Garden!
Gardens are wonderful for those partaking in the sustainable lifestyle. They often provide wonderful outcomes for both the individual and the planet! Growing your own plants from seed will totally shrink your carbon footprint. It’s also a great way to provide you with healthy, fresh, and delicious alternatives from what’s at the grocery store. It will also allow you to reuse all the old food scraps that you had composted!
Look to a nearby community garden to find fellow sustainably-forward people that may be able to assist you on your garden journey. In my hometown, there’s a farm that offers something called, “Community Shared Agriculture” (CSA). After registering with the CSA, you simply pick up food that was farmed on the land. This, in turn, supports local farmers as well as the local economy.👌
It’s A Matter of Time
If building a garden is not a viable option and there aren’t any nearby farms, look to in-season fruits and veggies. They hold less of a carbon footprint and generally come straight from the ground!
To find more ways to cook in-season produce, I would recommend Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert’s cookbook: Simply in Season. The book offers recipes that highlight the significance of eating local, seasonal, and fair-trade food.
Eating Sustainably is a Win-Win!!
Eating sustainably is to practice mindful consumption. Your health is directly effected by what you eat! But being mindful also means genuinely thinking about our food’s environmental impact. If everyone were to have this elevated mindset and adjusted their lifestyle accordingly, then we can help regain our balance with the natural world.
It’s estimated that if we were all to do something as simple as significantly reducing our meat consumption (and dare I say, go vegetarian), it can have a dramatic impact on our emissions (food-related emission could drop by 60%)! Through being conscious of food production and alternatives, eating sustainably works to protect both our health as well as the Earth’s.
Editing by Marc-Antoni Tarondo