How to Eat a More Sustainable Diet

A paper sign being held up on a wooden stick. The sign is black with a drawing of the planet on it. There is writing that says 'one world'

Last week was Earth Day.  If you haven’t heard of it before, Earth Day seeks to highlight the important environmental issues we are all facing, empowering individuals and governments to take action and make vital changes. Though there is a specific earth day, events often run the course of April. 

While Earth Day may be over, it’s still important to try and do our part to help keep our planet healthy and live a sustainable life style. With that in mind, I wanted to highlight some easy steps we can all take to eating a more sustainable diet. 

Firstly, we need to know what sustainability actually means. The Environmental Protection Agency define it as ‘the ability to maintain or improve standards of living without damaging or depleting natural resources for present or future generations’.  In nutrition terms this means eating in a way that keeps us healthy (getting your fill of fruit, veg, grains, micro and macronutrients etc) but also means we will have enough resources for everyone else we share the planet with and all its future generations. 

There is no one way to eat a sustainable diet and there is no such thing as a perfect diet that has zero impact on our environment. However, there are small changes you can make to reduce your environmental impact and ensure 

So here are my top 8 ways you can try to make your diet more planet friendly

1. Eat more plants 

We should all be aiming for 5 a day and eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans and other plant products. Adding in plant based foods is great fro the environment and can improve your health

2. Reduce your meat consumption

Livestock is the second largest polluter globally. Animals requires lots of land, water and food all of which leads to deforestation, water pollution and green house gas pollution. Try changing a few of your meals for delicious plant based alternatives. You could try meat free Mondays or opt for a tasty vegetarian meal next time you are at a restaurant. Make cooking more exciting by adding things into your diet instead of thinking about what you are taking away. I know when I switched to a vegan diet I lost a few foods but I also gained a lot more. I now eat things like tofu and tempeh which I had never previously eaten and I cook a wider range of meals instead of eating the same things over and over.

3. Meal plan

If you try to plan what you are going to eat for the week ahead before you do your food  shop then you can aim to eat everything in the fridge and not have to buy last minute plastic wrapped meals from the shops. 

4. Reduce your fizzy drink intake

Large companies that manufacture popular fizzy drinks have negative impacts on the environment. They require large amounts of water to make their products, use unethical farming practices and generally come in plastic bottles. Reducing your sugary drink intake is also beneficial to you. Cutting back on the soda can help reduce your sugar and calorie intake and save you from eroding your teeth. 

5. Reduce food waste

A stunning 30-40 percent of all food in the U.S. ends up in the bin and 9.6m tonnes of food is wasted every year in the UK! 

Freeze leftovers or eat them as soon as possible. You can make your food scraps into something new. I follow @plantyou on instagram, who has a series called scrappy cooking where she takes kitchen scraps and makes them into something tasty and new. You also don’t have to buy everything fresh to eat a healthy diet. If you find certain foods go off before you get the chance to eat them, look for an alternative. I buy things like green beans and berries frozen so I don’t have to worry about them going off before I get round to cooking with them. You can also buy tinned foods that last for ages and are just as healthy as their fresh counterparts. 

6.  Make your own lunches

It might take a little more time but if you can manage it, making your own lunch is a great way to be more sustainable. You use less plastic packaging when you pack your food in a reusable container, you can eat leftovers from previous meals and use up what is about to go off in the fridge. An added bonus is you might just save some money.

7. Eat out less

By making a few extra dinners at home you could be cutting down on food waste and energy. Restaurants throw away a lot of food and require lots of energy to make that food. If you are cooking at home, you can use up more of your food before it goes off, cook healthy meals and save yourself money. 

8. Follow the people that inspire you and help you to lead a more sustainable life

Some people I love to follow include: 

– Leah @greengirlleah

– Carleigh @plant you

– Shelbi (@shelbizlee)

Remember, sustainability isn’t about being perfect and you don’t need to do all the things on the list to make a difference.  Sustainability is about leading a lifestyle that you can commit to long term. If you find yourself being restrictive, cutting out all the things you enjoy and generally making yourself miserable trying to be as eco conscious as possible you aren’t going to stick with any of the changes you have made. Making small changes over time that you stick with, is what is important and can help make the world a little bit better. 

What are your top ways of leading a more sustainable lifestyle? 

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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