Every food that we eat does not only directly affect our bodies, it also has a direct impact on our environment. Every aspect that forms part of our breakfast, lunch, dinner, and those snacks in between can be good or bad for the world we live in.
A diet that cares for both health and environment is called “sustainable diet.” Sustainable diet refers to what a person consumes that leads to good nutritional status and long-term good health, but likewise has low environmental impact.
Nutritional and lifestyle guidelines must include those from a variety of food sources that are nutrient-dense, help maintain energy balance, and prevent noncommunicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and cancer.
Making dietary changes is a good start to reduce environmental impact. Here are some health and environmentally conscious food choices:
Plant-based diet – Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of dietary fiber and phytochemicals. Other sources may include potatoes and root crops, rice and whole grains, cereals and nuts. Nuts are a great sustainable plant-based food choice as they have the lowest carbon emission among food groups.
Fresh produce and semi-processed food – Selections that require no further cooking, like fresh vegetables and fruits, not only conserve food nutrients, but also reduce energy consumption.
Organically grown ingredients – Food made with organically grown ingredients tend to have low carbon emissions and are free from chemical contaminants.
White sources – This includes seafood and “white meat” such as poultry. Some plant-based white alternatives include tofu, lentils, beans, tempeh, and Quorn.
Zero-food waste – Another easy way to care for the environment is by recycling and upcycling leftovers. Hence, it’s vital to properly store them to ensure they don’t end up in the garbage. Planning meals ahead is another way to lessen food waste.