One Tree Planted

9 Ways to Have a Sustainable Diet 

Meaghan Weeden | November 25, 2020 | 5 min read

Here are 9 Simple Ways to Eat a Sustainable Diet for the Planet

There’s a lot of information out there about how to eat a healthy diet, and that’s great. But maybe you’re also wondering how to have a sustainable diet without giving up all of the dishes that you love. We know it can be confusing to figure out exactly what a sustainable diet is, so we’ve created a list to get you started!

How you eat is a deeply personal choice, and one that you ultimately have to make for yourself, but we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that a sustainable diet is delicious and easy to follow.

To begin, let's clarify what, exactly, a sustainable diet is: it's vibrant, delicious, and good for you. It's filled with local, seasonal, and plant-based meals. And it's kind to the planet because it supports sustainable farming practices and requires less resources to maintain. What you eat has a bigger impact on the environment than you may realize, and by greening up your plate (literally and otherwise), you can ensure that you're having a positive impact with every meal. 

Ready to Get Started? Check Out Our 9 Sustainable Diet Tips!

sustainable lunch friends

1. Eat More Plants

Fruits and vegetables are loaded with essential nutrients that we just can’t get elsewhere. They also generally have a much lower environmental impact than meat, dairy, and processed foods. Exceptions include fragile produce shipped thousands of miles, veggies (like hothouse tomatoes) that are grown in protected conditions, and resource-intensive foods like almonds and GMO soy.

fresh locally farmed greens

2. Expand Your Horizons

How we eat is harming the planet, and 75% of the global food supply comes from just 12 plants and 5 animal species. The lack of variety in our diets puts undue pressure on ecosystems AND reduces food security. So build colorful plates and enjoy a more nutritious, flavorful, and eco-friendly meal. And don’t be afraid to experiment with unique, locally available foods!

hands holding produce scraps for compost

3. Waste Not, Want Not

With 30% of the food produced getting wasted, it’s clear that food waste is a major problem around the world. In fact, if it was a country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases (after China and the U.S.). So try to buy only what you will eat before it goes bad, compost your scraps, and freeze or otherwise preserve anything that you won’t use right away. You can also find our tips on how to reduce waste.

cute cow with freckled nose

4. Moderate Dairy+ Meat

With global meat consumption increasing by 500% between 1992 and 2016, the livestock industry alone generates a staggering 15% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Still feel like you need animal protein? Consider limiting your meat + dairy consumption to a few times a week and choosing more sustainable meats (like sustainably produced chicken instead of beef).

fresh local produce organic farmer

5. Eat Local + In Season

Beyond having your own organic garden, the next best option is to support a local, sustainable farm. Just be sure to choose foods that are in-season, because the cost of storing them beyond their natural growing seasons can in some cases be higher than that of shipping foods that are in season somewhere else. Support local farmers and your local community!

whole grains bulk unprocessed form

6. Avoid Processed Foods

Aside from being bad for your health, processed foods require a lot of resources to break ingredients down and strip out most nutrients along the way. Even brown rice, which is inarguably better than white rice, sucks up a lot of water during production. So get in the habit of buying foods in their whole, unprocessed form, like buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice, unrefined barley, and wheat berries. 

sustainable seafood sardines

7. Choose Sustainably Sourced Seafood

Seafood is a great addition to a healthy diet, but high demand and poor management have led to overfishing of popular species like North Sea cod and wild Atlantic salmon. So get adventurous and try a delicious, sustainable alternative like barramundi, wild-caught sardines, and sustainably farmed shellfish. 

colorful vegan lentil burgers

8. Give Plant Proteins a Chance

Plant-based proteins like beans, pulses, and some grains, are much less resource-intensive than animal proteins like beef and chicken. They also tend to be heart healthier and easier to digest. The next time you make tacos or shepherds pie, try subbing lentils for the beef for a delicious, filling, and sustainable alternative!

bulk bags produce sustainable shopping

9. choose Sustainably Packaged Foods

Proper food packaging, especially of meats and seafood, is important for food safety. But wherever possible, try to reduce the amount of packaged foods you buy. Think bulk fruits vs. individually packaged ones, bring reusable shopping and bulk bags to the store, and find products that use sustainable packaging materials.

We hope this list has gotten you excited about greening up your diet! Just want to plant a tree? Choose your region and plant today!

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