A Guide to Sustainable Eating: What Can You Do to Eat More Sustainably?

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“Sustainable eating” isn’t just a buzzword or a marketing gimmick. Eating sustainably means making carefully planned decisions about the food you eat based on deeper level thinking (i.e. where it comes from, how it’s made, what’s in it, etc.). In other words, when you eat, do you think about the effects your meal may have on the planet or on your health? If you find yourself drawing a blank, don’t worry! There’s still time to turn things around.

According to data gathered (via a survey) by Cone Communications, 77 percent of Americans say that sustainability factors into their purchasing decisions. When asked why, however, 64 percent of respondents said that their main reason for doing so was to support their community. (Here’s what that means: People aren’t shopping sustainably to benefit the environment, their health, or the economy—they’re doing it to help local business owners.)

Even so, there’s no doubt that what we eat has a big impact on the planet. Eating healthfully and sustainably not only benefits our own health but will benefit the health of the planet, as well. Read on for tips on how to develop sustainable eating practices (even if you’re a newbie).⁠

Eat more plants.

According to The Healthy Eating Plate (a health and nutrition guide that was created by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), each meal you devour should be filled with fruits and veggies. So, that’s at least one half of your plate. How does this help the environment? According to WWF-UK, the livestock industry produces an estimated 15 percent of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions. This means, if we work together to limit our meat intake and replace it with plant-based options, we could save up to 82 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

Practice mindful eating.

One way to really home in on the food and beverages you’re putting into your body is to do so mindfully. Mindful eating means focusing on what you’re eating or drinking and reflecting on where it came from and how it was made, whether it’s actually good for you or not, and what’s in it. It also means figuring out why you’re eating: Are you snacking because you’re bored or because you’re actually hungry? By thinking about these things more carefully, you’ll be able to reduce your food consumption (and therefore your food waste). 

Whenever possible, reduce food waste.

Speaking of food waste…Reducing food waste at home (or at the office) is a quick-and-easy way to help save the environment. Did you know that 30-to-40 percent of the food produced in the US is wasted? Some ways you can reduce waste at home include: Freezing food while it’s fresh (if you can’t use it right away), purchasing the necessities (and limiting the “wants”), and meal prepping.

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