How to Eat More Sustainably


How to Eat More Sustainably

In recent years, sustainable diets have gained considerable attention – and for good reason. There is a clear connection between how we eat, and the impact it has on the planet. Since the health of our planet is as critical as the health of our bodies, it is important to consider eating more sustainably to improve planetary health.

The EAT-Lancet commission, a comprehensive report from scientists across 16 countries, provides the scientific targets to planetary health diets and sustainable food production. It highlights the need for a more plant-based, sustainable approach to eating in order to feasibly feed the forecasted global population of 10 billion people by 2050.1 This blog will explore the core principles of sustainable diets, its benefits, and some top tips for adopting this eco-friendlier way of eating.

What is a sustainable diet?

A sustainable diet is one which promotes health and wellbeing whilst minimising environmental impact. This typically involves prioritising plant-based foods, reducing food waste, and choosing locally sourced produce. Eating this way can help to ensure food security for present and future generations. A sustainable diet encompasses the following:2

  • Nutritional quality: A sustainable diet includes whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes which all provide essential vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. A varied diet rich in these high-fibre foods supports the gut microbiota, fostering a diverse and balanced community of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. In turn, this can aid digestion, support immunity, and has even been linked to improving mood and mental health.
  • Environmental impact: Eating sustainably can lower your carbon footprint by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, water usage and biodiversity loss.
  • Social equity: Sustainable diets support fair labour practices and ensure access to nutritious foods for all communities. They promote fair trade, sustainable agriculture, and support local food systems which can enhance the economic viability of local farmers and communities/ which can help communities thrive.

Top Five Tips for Eating More Sustainably

Transitioning to a sustainable diet doesn’t need to be complicated. Start with small changes, such as incorporating more plant-based meals into your week or buying produce from a local grocery store or farmers’ market. Read on to discover our top tips for eating more sustainably.

Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains to your meals. Start with simple steps such as having meat-free day once a week. This can be a fun and creative way to explore new recipes and ingredients such as our Tofu Scramble – https://loveyourgut.com/recipes/tofu-scramble/ or Roasted baby carrot salad with walnuts – https://loveyourgut.com/recipes/roasted-baby-carrot-salad-with-walnuts-puy-lentils-and-feta/

  • Seasonal and Local Eating

Choosing seasonal produce benefits both the planet and our health. Seasonal foods are harvested at their peak ripeness, ensuring they are nutrient-dense and full of flavour. Consuming a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables helps maintain a diverse diet, which, in turn, promotes a flourishing gut microbiome. Additionally, eating locally sourced foods requires less transportation and thus reduces the carbon footprint associated with long-distance food distribution. It also supports the local economy and agricultural biodiversity.

When food is wasted, so are the resources used to produce it, including water, energy, and labour. Reduce food wastage by planning meals, storing food properly and getting creative with leftovers. The next time you have leftover vegetables, why not transform them into a soup or stir-fry? Or use up over-ripe fruit in smoothies (https://loveyourgut.com/recipes/pineapple-banana-and-orange-smoothie/) or desserts?

 

  • Support Sustainable Brands

When doing your food shop, keep an eye out for certifications on packaging like organic, fairtrade, or sustainably sourced labels. These indicate that the products are produced with environmentally friendly practices and fair labour conditions. Additionally, consider shopping local brands that may not have the formal certifications but will be committed to sustainable and fair production.

 

Understanding the journey of your food from farm to fork can help you to make informed decisions. Start learning about the environmental and social impacts of different foods and shop accordingly. For instance, learn which foods, or brands, have higher water footprints or contribute more towards deforestation. There are many resources including blogs, documentaries, and books, that provide valuable insights. Engage with community groups or online pages which focus on sustainable living, and share what you learn with friends and family to spread awareness and encourage sustainable action.

 

References

 

  • Johnston, J.L., Fanzo, J.C. and Cogill, B., 2014. Understanding sustainable diets: a descriptive analysis of the determinants and processes that influence diets and their impact on health, food security, and environmental sustainability. Advances in nutrition5(4), pp.418-429.

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