Sustainable Diet Habits to Lessen Your Environmental Footprint
Accounting for 20-30% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, emissions generated during food production are more damaging to the environment than transportation emissions. Food production also accounts for 66% of water usage. Fortunately, by adopting sustainable diet habits, you can help lessen your environmental impact and preserve the global food supply and resources for future generations. Even better, eating sustainably doesn’t have to be complicated, and it can also be better for your health.
Fill up on plants
Global food production generates over 17 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year with animal-based foods accounting for 57% of those emissions, and plant-based foods 29%. By eating more plants and less animal products (like meat and dairy), you can reduce water, land, energy, and fertilizer use, as well as emissions. Plant protein production actually requires around 100 times less water than animal protein production. Incorporating more plants into your diet doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, instead of cow’s milk, opt for one of the many plant-based milks, such as, soy, oat, almond, coconut, cashew, or pea milk. Plant-based milks are both delicious and nutritious. Just one glass of hemp milk, in particular, is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and contains 50% of the recommended daily intake of alpha-linolenic acid.
Opt for sustainable alcohol
Although alcohol accounts for just 2%-5% of dietary greenhouse gas emissions, making sustainable switches in this area can still make a positive environmental impact. For example, you can lower carbon emissions by drinking local — packaging and transportation accounts for 30-50% of any drink’s greenhouse gas emissions. Alternatively, buy from small distilleries committed to sustainable practices. Plant-a-tree clubs, for example, are designed to help reforestation around the world and reverse the climate crisis. If you sign up and join a plant-a-tree club, the company will plant a tree on your behalf.
Although virtually any and all fruit and vegetables are available in major supermarkets throughout the year, out-of-season produce has a higher carbon footprint. Not only does it travel many miles to reach the grocery store, but it also may potentially need special intensive heating and lighting to grow in unnatural conditions. Seasonal produce, alternatively, doesn’t travel as far to reach you and therefore requires less fuel and generates less pollution. It’s also usually fresher, tastier, and cheaper. So, for example, commit to eating in-season by buying produce inline with your region’s harvest cycle. If there are some things you prefer to eat year-round (like berries in the winter, for example), there are ways you can do so sustainably. For instance, buy extra berries when they’re in-season and store them in the freezer to eat later on.
Adopting sustainable diet habits is a great way to help protect the environment and global food supply, as well as improve your health. By filling up on plants, opting for sustainable alcohol, and buying in-season, you can minimize your environmental footprint and do your bit for the planet.