Global consumer trends tend to converge on the conclusion that eating sustainably means switching to an all-veggie or even vegan diet. While there exists empirical evidence to suggest that plant-based foods reduce the overall environmental impact of food production and consumption, there is a growing consensus that responsibly sourced meat products can also provide sustainable alternatives.
Before diving deeper into low impact eating without going vegan, let’s look at some ways in which an easy switch to plant-based consumption is beneficial. Plants, rich in essential nutrients, have a direct positive correlation with supporting your immune system. Phytochemicals and antioxidants, which are basically vitamins and minerals, possess anti-inflammatory properties that can neutralize toxins released from pesticides, bacteria and pollution-ridden produce. These in turn result in lower risk of high blood pressure, hypertension or cardiac-related diseases.
"A plant-based diet is the only diet that has been shown to not only prevent — but to reverse — advanced-stage cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes," says Juleanna Hever, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-based Nutrition.
Strategies to transition to a wholesome, low-impact diet
- Actively cut down on meat and processed foods: Rather than completely going cold-turkey on a diet that was always so rich in meat products, consider choosing a particular day in the week where meat is not consumed. For instance, Meatless Monday was a popular global campaign initiated by The Monday Campaigns Inc. that suggested cutting out meat consumption on Mondays as a way to a make a difference for individual health and for the health of the planet. Why Monday? Behavioral studies suggest that new actions in an otherwise routinized lifestyle has the highest probability of successful implementation at the start of the week. Realistically speaking, the first day of the week offers an opportunity to commence new change in our routines making it easier to track our progress.
- Be aware of the greenhouse gas emissions that arise out of everyday food products to be able to make responsible purchases: According to the University of Michigan Carbon Footprint Factsheet, meat (47.6%) contributes the most to greenhouse gas emissions from an average person’s diet followed by dairy products (18.9%), poultry, fish, seafood and eggs (13.9%). Based on this statistic, making simple switches away from beef and other types of red meat towards chicken, turkey and seafood lowers the overall environmental impact significantly. Moreover, reducing the quantities of dairy products like milk and cheese is possible with dairy-free alternatives such as oat and almond milk. These simple tactics can be incorporated into our daily lives at low switching and adjustment costs.
- Shop local and Eat Seasonal: Searching and shopping for foods that are out of season requires farmers from distant locations having to transport their produce thereby consuming substantial additional resources along the way. Moreover, locally grown produce tends to be richer in nutrients and flavor as it doesn’t require storage processing. So, keep a lookout for farmers markets and cafes that serve locally-produced foods.
Why focus on dietary modifications to reduce our carbon footprint, you might ask? Emissions from our food consumption represent the single largest emission that we can control ourselves.
anatã is coming soon with a curated marketplace, which will exclusively sell food and drinks that are sustainable — in addition to being organic, also grown in an ecologically and ethically responsible manner.