Sustainability is an increasingly pressing topic that gets name-dropped quite often in the media. But don’t let the hype tempt you into dismissing sustainability as a passing fad – or one too complex to understand. Sustainable living is not only important and helpful; it’s vital for our ability to coexist and thrive on this planet for years to come.
Every aspect of a person’s lifestyle can be assessed for sustainability – that includes our clothing choices, transportation usage, waste production, and diet. Little improvements in lifestyle can add up and contribute to a more sustainable existence. Thus, a sustainable diet can be good for your health and good for the planet at the same time.
What is a Sustainable Diet?
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, a sustainable diet is one that is “protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources.”
Don’t shy away from a sustainable diet! Though it sounds complicated in theory, once you have a few concrete examples, you’ll see that many aspects of a sustainable diet are super easy to adopt.
Here are 6 simple ways to make your diet more sustainable.
1. Prioritize Seasonal Foods
Pumpkin pie in autumn, strawberries in the summer – this concept isn’t difficult! Preparing meals that focus on in-season foods can reduce the strain on global farming and growing practices. Remember, to enjoy a summertime food in the middle of winter, there are a lot of additional resources – like greenhouse space, water, heat, artificial sunlight, and transportation – that may be required to make it happen.
2. Prioritize Foods Grown Locally
The more miles your food has to travel, the more gas, electricity, and energy needed to ship it to you. Buy locally to save energy and reduce the carbon footprint of your meal.
3. Prioritize Food Items with Less Packaging
Food items are often sold with an excessive amount of packaging, like plastic wrap, cardboard boxes, paper inserts, and more. Many packaging materials – including some that are recyclable – end up in the landfill. This is absolutely unnecessary, especially if the items can be sold with less or no packaging at all (like individual oranges placed in a reusable shopping bag instead of prepackaged mesh bags).
4. Buy in Bulk & Avoid Single-Serving Snacks
Buying in bulk is another way to reduce packaging. Start with pantry items with a long shelf life, like rice and dried beans. Prepare single-serving snacks at home with reusable glass containers or cotton bags.
5. Swap Meat for Plant-Based Proteins, when Possible
From land use to methane output, rearing animals for meat and dairy takes a very large toll on the environment. In many cases, plant-based proteins can provide the same nutritional elements as meat but without as severe of an impact on the planet.
6. Look for Sustainably-Sourced Foods
This is particularly relevant when purchasing fish and seafood. Compare brands and choose to buy from those that are certified for sustainable fishing practices.
Adopting a sustainable diet doesn’t have to be difficult! Small changes can make a big difference – one that helps preserve the world for all of us to enjoy.