sustainability and food
Image: Courtesy of Gabriel Jimenez via Unsplash

Here’s How Sustainability and Nutrition Can Co-Exist Together

According to a registered nutritionist.

Sustainable eating refers to eating in a way that results in less negative environmental impact.  It typically focuses on including more plant-based foods, and ultimately focusing on food choices that avoid using up natural resources.  With the impact of climate change, there has been a growing interest in sustainable nutrition. Healthy individuals, a healthy environment and a healthy economy all rely on a sustainable food system.  The current food system is contributing significantly to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions. Household food consumption gives rise to more than 60% of global Greenhouse Gas emissions — so what we eat is important.  Now let’s look at how we can eat for a healthier plant. We interviewed sustainability expert and veteran nutritionist Chloe McLeod to tell us more about how sustainability and nutrition can co-exist together. Keep reading to learn more! 

low fermentation diet
Image: Courtesy of Krystna Houser via Unsplash

Here’s How Sustainability and Nutrition Can Co-Exist Together

The Changes You Can Try to Make in Your Diet

  • Eat more plant foods: Farming animals for meat, dairy and eggs requires larger amounts of space and water, whilst also contributing larger amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Eating more plant foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, tofu and soy means less consumption of animal products which is beneficial from both a health and environmental perspective.
  • Reduce meat intake
    Meat, especially red meat, contribute as one of the foods with the largest carbon foot print.  The hierarchy of foods of the biggest to smallest carbon footprint is as follows: Beef and lamb (by far the largest), d
    airy and pork, and chicken and eggs
  • More plant foods: The larger the animal, the less efficient the process is of feeding it to produce meat (i.e. you need much more food to make a cow gain weight vs a chicken.  This doesn’t mean you need to cut out meat, but reducing meat consumption and/or changing the types of meat you consume can made a significant reduction in your individual carbon footprint.  

How to Limit Your Food Waste

30% of food produced globally is wasted, which equates to 1.3 billion tons of wasted food. 17.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions is generated from the production and disposal of food wasted in Australia annually. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of Australia’s highest emitting coal-fired power station. Some great ways to limit food waste include:

  • Plan your meals and snacks for the week and write up a grocery list then stick to that list
  • Freeze any leftovers you won’t eat within the next couple of days
  • Use as much of fruits and veg as possible e.g. roast/stir fry broccoli and cauliflower stalks, leave the skin on veg such as carrot and potato
  • Restore wilted vegetables by leaving them in cold water for 15 minutes
  • Use up the ‘bottom of the crisper’ produce in home-made soup or casseroles/stews

Eat More of a Variety of Foods

75% of the worlds food supply comes from twelve plants and five animals. Greater diversity in our diets results in greater diversity in agriculture.  Aim to include at least 30 different plant foods per week for both environmental health and gut health. Sounds like a lot, but we love a challenge. 

  • Local produce: If available, shop at your local farmer’s markets where you’re guaranteed local and seasonal produce.  It’s important to keep in mind the overall type of food we consume seems to be where the carbon foot print occurs rather than where it is sourced.  For example, local red meat will still have a much bigger carbon foot print than imported fruit.
  • Limit plastics: Up to 130,000 tonnes of plastic will find its way into our waterways and oceans each year, endangering marine wildlife.  Less than 90% of plastic globally is recycled, so it’s important to reduce how much plastic we use to begin with.  Some tips to limit plastics included: Opt for loose produce, rather than those packaged in plastic, bring your own reusable bags when grocery shopping, limit consumption of highly processed, packaged foods, adopt reusable items such as keep cups, glass containers and water bottles, use foil or beeswax wraps when you can instead of cling wrap. 

Meet Our Expert:

Chloe is an expert in nutrition for optimizing your health and wellbeing. Chloe has more than 12 years experience in the industry, and her expertise in gut health, food intolerance, and sports nutrition makes her one of the most sought after nutrition experts in Australia. You can visit Chloe’s website here to learn more and follow her on Instagram here.

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