It’s clear that what we put on our plates has a big impact on the environment. Eating more healthfully and more sustainably go hand-in-hand, meaning we can develop sustainable eating practices that improve our own health while also beneﬁting the health of the planet.
In the spirit of Earth Day today, those of us looking to find ways to contribute to the health of our planet can make a difference in the kitchen. Here are a few of my favs:
1.Prioritize Plants Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits. Shifting to a more plant-based way of eating will help reduce freshwater withdrawals and deforestation - a win-win for both our personal health and the environment.
2.Minimize Meat You may have heard about the health benefits, now there’s another reason to treat meat more as a condiment than a main dish. Meat production is a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – beef production especially – and the environmental burden deepens, as raising and transporting livestock also requires more food, water, land, and energy than plants. Choose more non-meat proteins such as nuts and legumes.
3. Select New Seafood Fish can be a healthy choice if part of an overall healthy dietary style, but some species are at risk of being overﬁshed, or produced in ways that harm the marine environment. If your go-to variety of ﬁsh is on the “avoid” list, consider trying some new seafood. Check www.seafoodwatch.org for sustainable options.
4. Look Locally Exploring farmers markets helps you ﬁnd fresh produce grown locally, but equally important, you can meet the people who produce your food. Such relationships are opportunities for education: you can learn how your food was grown, when it was harvested, and even how to prepare it.
5. Eat Mindfully Focusing on what you’re eating allows you to reﬂect on where your food came from and how it is nourishing your body. Additionally, by tuning in to your hunger signals you may learn that you don’t need as much food as you thought, and resize your meals accordingly. By paying more attention to how we eat and thinking about the “bigger picture,” we may alter our food consumption and reduce food waste, as well as become encouraged to seek out more sustainable food sources.