Creating a Sustainable, Healthy, and Ethical Diet Plan
Various aspects of our lives, directly and indirectly, impact the planet, and it’s important to be aware of them so that we can make the necessary changes. In a previous post on how the fashion industry impacts sustainability, we highlighted that around 10% of man-made pollution, carbon emissions, and dry water sources are due to fashion production. However, this doesn’t mean that the fashion industry can’t be sustainable. International organizations and governments today are setting sustainable fashion goals to reduce harm to the environment.
Likewise, what we eat and how we eat also impacts the world around us. Our eating habits, as well as the production of the food we consume, have long affected our environment. According to a study on global greenhouse gas emissions from foods, 57% of global emissions are attributed to the production of animal-based food, including livestock feed. Meanwhile, plant-based foods make up 29%, with 14% attributed to other utilizations, such as land use and management. Making changes to our daily lifestyle — whether fashion or food — can help reduce the harm caused to the environment. In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways you can create a sustainable, healthy, and ethical diet plan:
Be wary of diet trends
Diet trends come and go thanks to the fast-paced world of the Internet and social media. It may be tempting to follow the newest and hottest diet trend you see on TikTok, for example. Still, it’s essential to be aware of the consequences of a trendy fad diet, such as the creation of sudden demand for certain products and the immediate ceasing afterward, causing a supply chain disruption. Additionally, fad diets often falsely promise short-term results, such as instant weight loss.
You can avoid weight loss mistakes with the right strategy, such as the approach popularized by WeightWatchers and recommended by doctors. Instead of yo-yo dieting, it’s better to build lifelong habits and focus on eating various nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Instead of merely following trends, try personalizing your diet according to what you like to eat, then balance these out with a solid nutritional foundation.
Cook at home
In line with meal planning to help personalize your diet according to your needs, the next best course of action is to start cooking your meals at home. By doing so, you can control your meal portions to your preference and keep better track of your diet plan by being in charge of your own ingredients and cooking methods.
Frequent cooking at home is also associated with better diet quality when compared to dining out at fast-food restaurants. In fact, eating at fast-food restaurants is associated with higher diet-related greenhouse gas emissions due to the larger portion sizes. At the same time, fast food menus are prominently comprised of meat-based dishes and have long been associated with less healthy ingredients and cooking methods, e.g., deep frying processed goods. Making the switch from eating out to cooking at home can be a gradual change that will benefit your health and the environment in the long run.
Reduce food waste
Lastly, regardless of your dietary choices and diet plans, it’s important to be eco-conscious about what you eat and what you do with your leftovers afterward. While cooking at home has its advantages, overstocking your fridge and pantry can lead to more food waste if you don’t use them. Meal planning helps counter this problem by encouraging you to plan your grocery shopping list and ensure you don’t buy ingredients you may not need immediately.
A feature from the UNEP highlights the importance of eating your leftovers and cooking the right amount to combat food loss and food waste. Additionally, scheduling a day in the week to use any unused ingredients in your stock or sharing your excess food with friends and neighbors can be a great way not to let food go to waste. If you’re a green thumb, you can even learn to grow your own fruits and vegetables and compost inedible scraps.
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