Living a more sustainable lifestyle
In 2021 and beyond, striving for a diet that’s good for you, but good for the planet too, might be high on your list of resolutions. Now more than ever, it’s important that we all take the time to pause and reflect on the impact our food choices could be having on the environment.
- Food production is responsible for around 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions
- Around a third of all food produced globally is wasted
All the eco-chatter can feel overwhelming at first, but eating a greener diet doesn’t have to get complicated or expensive. By making a few simple eco-friendly tweaks to your daily meals and food shopping habits, you can give the planet a helping hand.
Even the smallest day-to-day changes can lead to a huge reduction in your climate ‘foodprint’ over time, especially if you’re consistent with them.
How to eat more sustainably
Grab your knife and fork (plastic-free, of course) and eat your way to an eco-friendly diet with these simple tips, swaps and tweaks…
Choose whole foods
Choosing natural whole foods isn’t just better for your health. It’s planet and purse-friendly, too.
Ultra-processed foods require a highly energy-intensive process and lots of packaging before they end up stacked on the supermarket shelves. On the flipside, whole foods like fruits, veg, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes typically have a low environmental footprint per serving.
Choose whole foods where you can—even better if you can buy them loose and use your own bag. This could be as simple as buying a few loose potatoes to oven bake at home, rather than a bag of frozen pre-made chips; or cooking from scratch, rather than picking up a ready meal.
Cut back on single-use plastic
Plastic is a problem. It’s loading up in landfill, hurting marine and wildlife and polluting our oceans. It can feel like the plastic problem is so huge that your individual efforts won’t make a difference, but every single small change is a step towards a greener planet.
Try out these simple tips to reduce your own plastic footprint:
- Shop savvy: Favour products with less plastic packaging if you can. Buy loose fruit & veg if it’s available. It’s just about having plastic on-the-brain while you shop!
- Ditch bottled water: Did you know that 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are used each year in the UK? If you haven’t bought a reusable bottle, it’s a great move towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
- Carry a reusable bag: You’re probably already doing this, but if not, it’s a small change with a big impact!
- Buy a reusable cup: Love a takeaway coffee? Buy a reusable cup and take that with you next time. You’ll often get money off your coffee, too—win-win!
- Shop in bulk: If you spot non-perishable goods in big packages, it makes sense to buy them if you can. It’s cheaper in the long-run and will decrease the amount of plastic used overall.
- Try zero-waste shops: Head over to your local zero-waste/plastic-free shop with your own containers. They’re popping up everywhere now and sell everything from nuts to flour.
- Choose local: Whether it’s the greengrocers down the road, the weekly farmer’s market or a farm shop, choose local produce, if and when you can. Local produce is likely to come loose, rather than wrapped in single-use plastic.
Reduce your food waste
Globally, a third of all food produced is wasted, with a whopping 8% of global greenhouse gases coming from food wastage alone. Some of this happens along the supply chain, but a lot of it happens within our homes, which (on the positive side) means we all have the chance to make a difference.
Here are some easy ways that you can help to battle the global food waste problem, both in the shops and at home.
- Check before you buy: Avoid over-buying by taking some time to check what food you already have in the fridge before you shop.
- Plan your meals: Plan your meals ahead of time and list down all the ingredients they require. That way, you’ll only buy what you really need.
- Think before you throw: Vegetables past their best can often be used in soups and smoothies, while slightly stale bread still makes great breadcrumbs!
- Buy ugly veg: No vegetable-discrimination here! Wonky or slightly bruised veg still tastes fine—by buying them, you could be saving them from being chucked in the bin at closing time.
- Save scraps: From potato skins to carrot tops, there’s no need to bin your veggie scraps. Blend them into soups, a sauce, a dip or try pickling them.
- Start freezing: Most dinner leftovers can be frozen and make a great quick lunch on a busy day. Many fruits and vegetables will freeze well, though some will need pureeing or blanching beforehand—nothing a quick google search can’t help with!
Eat seasonal produce
Cheap, tasty and eco-friendly food? Yes, please! Eating seasonal food is one of the best (and most delicious) ways to eat more sustainably. It essentially means planning your meals around foods that are currently ready to harvest in the UK or whichever country you live in.
By eating more seasonal produce, you’ll be reducing your own climate footprint, whilst supporting local British farming. Even better, you’ll also be helping to reduce demand for out-of-season produce, which has to be shipped hundreds—and often thousands—of miles from other countries.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, seasonal food is fresher, more flavoursome and more nutrient-dense, all whilst costing you less. The Veg Society has a great list of British seasonal produce. Print it out, take it shopping with you and try to pick seasonal and British produce whenever you can.
According to the United Nations FAO, animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
But you don’t need to go fully-fledged vegan or veggie to eat more sustainably. The simple act of eating a little less meat, but more veg, is a healthy way to help the planet. Why not try one of the following?
- Meat-free Monday: Try going veggie on Mondays or whatever day suits you best.
- One-part-plant: Why not aim for one plant-powered meal a day? Breakfast is an easy one! You could make it a Purition protein smoothie.
- Buy a veggie cookbook: It’s a great way to find some tasty new veggie or vegan recipes to incorporate into your meal routine.
The ‘less but better’ approach to meat is another great way to eat more sustainably. Choose meat from farms, not factories, if you can. Buying produce from your local farmer’s market or butchers, rather than the supermarket, is a great place to start.
Choose sustainable fish
Love seafood? Another simple way to eat more sustainably is by getting to know your fish. Choosing seafood that isn’t overfished, and is caught in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the marine ecosystem, is the most sustainable choice here.
Have a look at the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide. They rate (and regularly update) over 150 species of UK-traded fish on a scale of 1/green (most sustainable) to 5/red (least sustainable). It’s really handy and well-worth bookmarking if you’re interested in sustainable seafood!
How to eat more sustainably with SUST
SUST can help you to make a meaningful dietary change with both health and sustainability in mind. A glass of SUST is packed with the natural nutrition your body needs, but with minimal cost to the environment per meal. Powered by plants, swapping out your usual breakfast or lunch for SUST is an easy and active step towards a more eco-friendly diet.