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How to Eat More Sustainably Without Having to Go Vegan

A woman is cooking with sustainable foods like pasta and vegetables.

Our food choices can significantly impact the planet. As a result, more and more people are going vegan nowadays. After all, it is no secret that the most sustainable foods are plant-based.

While most of us can acknowledge that veganism promotes food sustainability, not everyone is ready to change their diet.

Luckily, living sustainably doesn’t strictly limit you to only vegan eating. Here are a few tips on how to eat more sustainably without having to go vegan:

Support Your Farmer’s Market

There are many eco-friendly perks of consuming local produce. For example, we reduce food transportation emissions and packaging waste. Also, consuming from local shops and farmer’s markets will help support the families that  harvesting sustainable foods.

Grow Your Own Food

If you are a gardening enthusiast, eating what you grow is an incredibly rewarding experience.

You don’t need to own a farm to cultivate certain foods. In fact, while having a backyard would be ideal, there are certain foods that we can grow indoors in pots and planters. For many seeds to bloom, all you need is a large window for sunlight and fresh air to come through. Some foods that can grow indoors include wheatgrass, garlic, tomatoes, chili peppers, and herbs.

Increase Your Veggie and Fruit Intake

Reducing our intake of animal products can benefit the environment.

For example, instead of having meat as your main entree, you can have it as a side dish and eat more veggies instead. Likewise, you can also try alternatives like vegan meats from Beyond Beef and Impossible Foods.

How Much CO2 Does Your Food Cause?

One way to eat more sustainably is to choose foods according to the percentage of greenhouse emissions their production causes. According to Hannah Ritchie — senior researcher of Our World in Data — the greenhouse emissions per kilogram of food product are as follows:

  • Beef (60 KgCO2)
  • Lamb (24 KgCO2)
  • Pork (7 KgCO2)
  • Poultry (6 KgCO2)
  • Cheese (21 KgCO2)
  • Chocolate (19 KgCO2)
  • Coffee (17 kgCO2)
  • Palm oil (8 KgCO2)
  • Rice (4 KgCO2)
  • Tomatoes (1.4 KgCO2)

*Note: KgCO2 stands for Kilograms of carbon dioxide.

Understanding the CO2 emissions that our food choices produce enables us to consume more sustainably. For example, a person who chooses to eat chicken has a lower carbon footprint than one who eats beef.

Avoid Processed Food

Processed food is not only unhealthy for us, but it also harms the environment.

Producing processed foods requires more natural resources than cooking whole foods at home. For starters, it is necessary to ship raw ingredients, which are usually frozen to preserve them until they are used. Natural resources are inevitably required to freeze and package the raw ingredients. Then we add up the carbon emissions that it takes to prepare those foods on a large scale. Furthermore, these processed foods require another round of packaging for distribution. Last but not least, once you have these foods at home, you will likely need to use natural resources to reheat or cook them.

Avoid Food Waste

We are already generating CO2 to produce food. When this food goes to waste, we contribute even more greenhouse emissions. This is because rotten foods — both plant-based and animal products — produce a powerful greenhouse gas called methane. If you often find yourself throwing excess food away, here are creative tips on how you can prevent it!

We hope these food sustainability tips were helpful! To find more useful information about nutrition, fitness, and health, please visit our Wellness Blog.

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