Health May 04, 2023
4 ways to tweak your diet towards a healthy lifestyle and a better planet
What does eating healthy have to do with the planet?
Peoples’ diets are as varied as the people themselves. What's common is how significantly eating habits affect our health, which is no surprise, but also the environment around us.
It might be easy to see ‘health’ as individual and personal and the ‘environment’ as societal and structural, but consider this: there are roughly 8 billion people on this planet. On any given day, what we eat for lunch requires a vast amount of resources and energy to produce, distribute and consume, and leaves a heavy footprint on an already buckling climate.
Currently, global food production:
- Emits 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions with the livestock sector accounting for almost half (14.5%) of these emissions
- Takes up 40% of the world’s land
- Uses 70% of freshwater
- Is the largest factor threatening species with extinction
Highly processed, low-nutrient food are heavy on the planet
Fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes and whole grains are all-round winners. They are rich in nutrients we need to grow, heal and flourish. To add to that, they are minimally processed and require little intervention to produce – in other words, quite easy on the environment.
On the contrary, unhealthy food, such as fast food, candy and highly-processed meat, are low in nutrients and high in empty calories. They are loaded with salt, sugar or the bad kind of fats, namely saturated and trans fats, of which the latter is also found in red meat and other animal-based produce. Consuming these regularly can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and inflammation among others health risks. Meanwhile, unhealthy foods are generally very resource intensive to produce, for instance, requiring a lot of water and land to grow. Moreover, throughout their lifecycle, from farm to table, they leave behind a very heavy carbon footprint.
Luckily, you don’t have to cross check multiple, cumbersome lists, because it just so happens that most healthy picks are also easy on the planet.
Here are 4 ways to tweak you diet towards a healthy lifestyle and a better planet:
1. Eat plant rich meals whenever possible
Adopting a plant rich diet is a great start towards a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Animal-based food has a higher saturated and trans fat content, and is more taxing on the environment compared to its plant-based counterpart: