Every person contributes to the environmental impact of our food system. Through small, but still achievable changes in our diets, we can all make the world a better place to live. There are 8 practical tips for a healthy and sustainable diet.
A sustainable diet must be environmentally friendly and have a minimal impact on the natural environment. A sustainable diet must also be nutritionally adequate, safe, healthy and culturally acceptable.
Family Doctors Urgent Care can help you to choose a health & sustainable diet. Let’s take a look at 8 ways to eat sustainably for our own health and that of the planet.
1. Get more fruits and veggies
Vegetables are healthy and have a low environmental impact. Some produce require extra resources to transport and preserve, so consuming these foods less often can help increase sustainability. Examples include:
- Fruits and vegetables that are delicate or need refrigeration (salads, berries)
- Vegetables that have been grown in protected environments (hot-house tomatoes, cucumbers) are considered to be safe.
- Foods that require a lot of resources for transport (e.g., green beans, mange-touts or berries imported from southern hemisphere)
2. Locally, eat when it’s in season
If we select local foods, we can make a sustainable choice. Local foods can be more expensive to produce or store than foods shipped from other countries.
3. Swap animal protein for plant-based proteins
It generally takes more resources to produce animal-based protein (especially beef) than it does to produce plant-based protein (such as beans and pulses, or some grains). Eating a more plant-based diet also brings health benefits: plant-based food provides more fibre, and has a lower saturated fat content, both of which can contribute to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
We can reduce our environmental footprint by limiting meat consumption to just 1-2 times per week and opting for sustainable meats such as chicken or fish.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, it is important to combine different plant-based proteins in order to meet your protein requirements.
4. Whole grains are better
Refined cereals require less processing steps and are therefore more resource-intensive to produce. They are good for our health and reduce our risk of developing type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
These are all great options: whole meal breads, whole grain pastas, whole meal breads, unrefined barley and buckwheat, as well as whole-meal breads, whole-grain pastas, whole grains, quinoa and whole grain pastas.
Brown rice can be substituted for white rice but should not be consumed in excess as it is made with a lot more water.
5. Select sustainably sourced seafood
Fish is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acid, which are essential for normal vision, brain function, and heart health. Overfishing is leading to a decline in wild fish stocks. To ensure wild fish stocks are not under pressure and to get the nutrients they need,
Consume fish and seafood at least once a week to get the nutrients you need and lessen pressure on wild fish stocks.
Choose seafood and fish marked with sustainability labels from organizations such as the Marine Stewardship Council.
6. Moderation is key when it comes to dairy products
While milk and dairy production has an important environmental impact, dairy products are an important source of protein, calcium and essential amino acids, and have been linked to reduced risk of several chronic diseases, including metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, stroke, bowel cancer and type 2 diabetes.
You can enjoy low-fat, unsweetened dairy products every day, but only in moderation.
Reduce your intake of high-fat cheeses.
If you are adamant about eliminating dairy, plant-based beverages that are rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium will be your best option.
7. Avoid packaging that isn’t necessary
Packaging food, especially when it is made from non-recyclable materials, can have a significant impact on the environment. There are many ways we can all reduce the number of packaged foods we purchase.You can also consult Family Doctors Urgent Care. For example, bulk apples can be better than cling-film-wrapped ones. Or, opt for biodegradable, fully recyclable or recycled materials.
8. Get tap water
The standards for water safety and quality in Europe are very high. We don’t have to buy bottled water. Instead, we can refill a reusable water container at the tap as many as we like. Tap water is less expensive than bottled water, and it also reduces our environmental footprint.