Many food trends focus on weight loss and improving overall health, but have you ever considered adopting a diet that promotes environmental health too?
There are many ways to eat sustainably that can benefit your health, your budget and the planet.
For a diet to be considered sustainable, food should be produced in a way that protects the environment and has a low impact on biodiversity, ecosystems and natural resources.
So how can we make progress to eat in a more sustainable fashion when cash is tight?
In theory a sustainable diet could save money as you should be more careful of resources.
1. Eat more plants and less meat
A plant-forward diet generally uses less land, water, fertiliser, and energy than a diet high in animal products such as meat and cheese.
You don’t have to say goodbye to meat entirely, shifting how frequently you consume and eat meat can play a significant role in your diet’s overall environmental impact.
When making your shopping list, chose options that produce fewer carbon emissions like eggs chicken and pork.
If you’re a big meat eater start with small changes like ‘Meatless Monday’.
Try replacing the meat in certain dishes with mushrooms, beans or lentils.
2. Reduce consumption of processed foods
These types of foods are typically high in fat, sugar and tend to have various additives in them.
The production, transportation and consumption of these foods contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
Olivia Wright, accountant for Nottingham Forest, said: “Since the new year, I have made a real effort to cut out the rubbish from my diet, eating crisps, sweets and other unhealthy things does me no good.
Fresh food tastes so much better and also works out cheaper, I can already feel the positive affects on my body, physically and mentally.”
The bottom line is, they are bad for your health, so that is even more reason to cut back on them.
3. Pick the right seafood
When buying fish take a look at the eco-rating’s, mercury levels, and omega-3 contents.
These can help you as the consumer determine the healthfulness and environmental sustainability of the specific fish and seafood options you are planning on putting in your trolley.
Fish that we should be looking to eat, that won’t harm the environment is Cornish hake, Mackerel, Dover sole and Red Mullet.
4. Buy Local
Choosing locally-grown food can reduce energy usage.
Look for signs in stores that say ‘local’ and visit nearby farmers markets.
However, the benefits may be neglected if you have to drive a long distance to buy local products, so make sure its close to home.
If you have the space, why not consider growing your own fruit and veg?
Your back garden is as local as it gets but its also an added bonus to your mental and physical health as gardening connects you with nature.
5. Buy produce in season
Buying produce in season has many benefits.
Season produce usually doesn’t have to travel a large distance to the shop its being sold in and therefore creates less pollution than out-of-season produce.
Produce that may require special high-energy heating and lighting to grow in unnatural conditions is not environmentally friendly.
Plus, in-season crops are often tastier and more affordable too!
6. Bulk buy
When writing your shopping list, or meal planning for the week remember to buy in bulk.
By doing so, you can reduce excessive packaging waste and save the energy used to make the packaging and resources used to make that packaging.
Another thought is to purchase reusable, washable bags that you can use when doing your shopping.
7. Reduce food waste
Statistics from Food Waste 2022, published at the beginning of January states that in the UK alone it is estimated we throw away around 9.5 million tonnes of food waste annually.
Food production uses large amounts of energy, water, fuel. When food is wasted, the waste ends up in a landfill site, which is already overcrowded.
All of these contribute to land and air pollution.
Some tips for reducing food waste at home include:
- Use leftover vegetables in a stir fry, casserole, salad or soup.
- Freeze leftover food, this is great for quick meals on life’s busy days!
- Use glass jars in the fridge to store sauces etc. that you could use again
- Use ‘wonky’ fruit and veg, the shape is usually minor and doesn’t impact the taste or quality of the food.
8. Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose
Reducing kitchen waste can also lower your environmental impact and live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Making a conscious effort to drink from a reusable water bottle, try not to use disposable cutlery and paper plates, use washable cloths instead of kitchen roll.
There are many small changes you can make, that if everyone made them would have a large, positive impact on the environment.
James Williams, 25, who lives and works in Nottingham city centre said: “I make a conscious effort to take my metal water bottle to work, even if I’m running late and forget to make lunch.
I recognise that refilling this rather than make a plastic one everyday makes a difference to the amount of plastic I’m wasting and in my bank account.
Spending a couple of pounds a day on an unnecessary water bottle really does add up.”
9. Make your own food
A simple way to reduce packaging waste is to make your own food as it can also save you money because you are not paying for the production and campaign.
There are many things you can make from scratch rather than buying them for convenience.
It is obviously not possible to eat every single last bit of food and you can’t be 100% sustainable all of the time.
Composting is an easy solution to leftovers you can’t eat or turn into something else.
It keeps food out of landfills and undesirable foods out of your fridge and cupboards.
Composting turns organic waste into nutrient-rich fertiliser which can be used to help grow more nutritious foods – creating a cycle of a sustainable lifestyle.