How to Maintain Sustainable Eating Habits
Sustainable eating is more than just a passing fad. People seem to be intrigued by what’s put on their plate and where is it coming from. Looking beyond the grocery store shelf to explore the source of food nutrition has become the norm.
As our food-savvy society is becoming mindful of the surging environmental threat, consumers are rethinking their dietary choices and how their eating habits are affecting nature and the ecological balance.
What is a Sustainable Diet?
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of a sustainable diet, here’s a definition by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations:
“Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts that contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are 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.”
Simply put, sustainable diet is about choosing food that is healthy to your body as well as the environment. Now all you need to do is pick a low carbon diet that contributes to reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. Fret not! You’ll get into the swing of it with our insightful tips on maintaining sustainable eating habits.
5 Tips for Sustainable Eating
#1 Eat Plant-based Meals
This one will definitely send shudders down the spine of meat-lovers. Shifting to a plant-based diet that focuses on vegetables, beans, and nuts will not only add flavor and variety to your meal but also help in mitigating deforestation and reduce freshwater withdrawals for food production. This way you get to improve your personal health as well as save the planet. Besides, there are so many varieties to try: mouth-watering pasta, salads, vegetable-based stews, rice dishes, and more.
Plant-based diets are easy to follow and help you live an ethically healthy life. Ideally, a plant-based meal involves minimally processed food, moderate quantity of fish, minimal red meat (meat with low-fat content is preferable), and low-fat dairy.
According to U.S. News, these are the best plant-based diets:
- Mediterranean Diet
- The Flexitarian Diet
- Nordic Diet
- Ornish Diet
- Vegetarian Diet
But, first things first. Understand which meal plan suits your body type to get your diet off to a good start.
#2 Ditch Meat
Time to take up the “Meatless Monday” challenge! Cut the meat, one day a week. In fact, New York public schools are all set to go all-vegetarian every Monday starting the fall of 2019.
Meat production contributes majorly to global warming, and the livestock sector alone represents 14.5% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. There are many alternatives to red and white meat that are a source of protein while allowing you to curb emissions. In addition, you can always switch to vegan meat and meat substitutes like tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans and legumes to satisfy your meat cravings.
#3 Choose Ocean-friendly Seafood
Seafood is undoubtedly a healthy dietary choice. However, fishing and aquaculture are affecting our marine ecosystem negatively as some species are exposed to overfishing while others are farmed in ways harmful to the environment. Read these seafood recommendations before heading out to the fish market near you. Shrimp, salmon, tuna, or any other species – learn the story behind your favorite seafood and make an ocean-friendly choice.
#4 Shop Local
Explore local farmer’s markets near you to eat fresher, tastier, and healthier food. They are certainly more socially responsible and offer you a glimpse of how the food served in your plate is grown and harvested. By shopping locally, you not only save gas but also contribute to mitigating pollution as the food does not have to be transported from a distance. Additionally, you get the opportunity to know the farmers and other people involved in the entire process and gain valuable insights from them.
You can look for vendors offering locally grown agricultural products that are located near you in this National farmers market directory maintained by the United States Department of Agriculture.
#5 Resist Temptation and Eat Mindfully
Did you know mindful eating is actually a Buddhist concept? It’s about recognizing and coping with your cravings and food-related behaviors by paying full attention to the physical cues while you are having food. Eating mindfully helps in avoiding binge eating and unhealthy eating behaviors.
Do not rush your meals and focus on how the food makes you feel and where is it sourced from. Take baby steps and try mindful eating one meal per day. Once you get the knack of it, turn it into a daily habit.
Do you follow a sustainable diet? What are your ideas for sustainable and healthy eating? Share with us in the comments section below.