Whether you’re a vegan, a vegetarian, flexitarian, or simply a conscious omnivore, you’re probably well aware of the push towards more sustainable food options and the impact they can have on the planet and your health. Sustainable living can come in a variety of forms, from full-throttle environmental activism to little fixes here and there. Really, it can all start in your kitchen.
When it comes to choosing sustainable food options, there are so many ways to do it. While plant-based foods and fruits and vegetables are all great options, there are so many ways to bring sustainability into your home, and so many reasons to give it a try. Even if you aren’t a vegan or you don’t know much about sustainable living yet, you can take smaller steps into the world of sustainable food until you get to a comfortable place. Every little bit helps, especially over a long period of time — hence the term “sustainable.” Here are just a few reasons you may want to incorporate more sustainable food options into your diet.
- Saving Money
While certain sustainable and fresh food options can be a little more expensive than processed, packaged food, there are plenty of options for sustainably priced food, too. Specifically, buying in bulk and eating in season are some of the best ways to save money while eating sustainably. Coincidentally, some of the most sustainable food options also happen to be some of the most affordable ways to eat. Especially if you go the route of growing your own food or engaging in a food exchange, you can cut down the costs of food significantly.
- Eating Healthier
Eating sustainably often comes with the added benefit of eating healthier. Not only does eating sustainably usually come with eating fresher foods, but the foods you eat will likely have less preservatives, additives, fats and sugars in them, too. While sustainable food is often discussed in terms of environmental sustainability, the sustainable and healthy impact it has on your body shouldn’t go unmentioned. Even when you compare sustainable foods to their more processed counterparts, the sustainable foods come out on top — like wild salmon containing more calcium, zinc and iron for fewer calories and organic broccoli containing more vitamin C.
- The Environmental Benefit
Of course, where would the sustainable food conversation be without bringing up the environmental benefit of it all? Eating sustainably can lower your carbon footprint considerably. Although the exact contribution you make to the planet will depend on the specific choices you make in your diet and how often you implement them, the benefits will be there regardless, as even the smallest contribution matters when fighting climate change. Eating more local, sustainable foods can save on things like water, transportation emissions, packaging and other wasteful parts of the food production process.
- Limiting Food Waste
Food waste is another reason that eating sustainably is the right way to go, and it’s a means of enacting your change. Sustainable food limits food waste in the process of getting to your table, but you can also limit food waste in your own home in order to make your food consumption more sustainable. By saving leftovers, not overshopping and even composting, you can do your part in limiting food waste. There are even subscription boxes dedicated to delivering produce that has been rejected from the grocery store based only on appearance, sold at a discount!
- Kindness to Animals
Sustainability often comes with the added benefit of animal welfare. Some of the least sustainable foods to eat in excess involve animal products — specifically red meat, dairy and processed meats. Even if you don’t go completely vegan, any little bit helps. Meatless Mondays, flexitarian diets and free-range eggs are all great steps in the right direction.
- Becoming More Self-Sufficient
While not everybody likes to grow their own food, it is one of the most sustainable options when it comes to producing and obtaining food to eat. Not only does the labor come from your own hands, but there’s no travel time for your food, either! It goes straight from the ground onto your table — well, okay, you do need to wash it first. Even if you start with a few easy and basic plants, gardening can help you become a bit more self-sufficient and reliant on your own land.
Eating More Sustainably
There are so many reasons why you should incorporate more sustainable foods into your diet. From the kindness to the animals to the positive impact it can have on the planet — not to mention your own body! Plus, there are so many ways to eat more sustainably. Whether you go for fresh, local options at the grocery store, garden in your own backyard or start eating less animal products in favor of plant-based options, every little bit can lend a helping hand to create a more sustainable world.