Yes, it’s absolutely possible to eat healthier AND more sustainably! In fact, it could be argued that many of the healthy food choices you make will lead you to consume the more sustainably-produced foods—like veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, and seeds. It’s not as difficult as you might think, and both your body and the environment will thank you. Here’s what you can do:
Eat More Veggies
Veggies are produced in massive quantities, but did you know that a lot of them go to waste because they rot before people get around to eating them? You may have noticed that veggies rot in your fridge for that exact reason. The more veggies you eat, the less waste will be generated because you’ll be consuming the natural, untreated produce. Plus, you’ll end up way healthier because of that increased fiber intake. There is literally no drawback to increasing your vegetable consumption!
Consider Meatless Days
The meat industry has a huge effect on the environment, with a massive amount of water going to livestock and enormous quantities of emissions generated by animal farms. Just cutting meat from your diet for one day can reduce your greenhouse gas footprint by as much as 7%, and that’s just in ONE day! Think about having at least one meat-free day a week, a day when you eat more legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies. It will do wonders to raise your intake of healthy micronutrients while decreasing the amount of fat you consume.
Make Smart Shellfish Choices
Shellfish like shrimp, oysters, and mussels are all fairly healthy options. They’re lower in calories than high-fat meats and they contain a lot of beneficial micronutrients. If you’re going to increase your shellfish intake, try to make the sustainable choices by eating domestically caught or farmed shrimp, eating the more sustainable types of bivalves (scallops, oysters, clams, and mussels), and choosing the more sustainable types of fish—including domestic tilapia, farmed Arctic char, and trout farmed domestically.
Shop The Discount Section
Many grocers and produce stores will have a section or shelf that is “reduced to clear” because the veggies, fruits, and even meats there are on the verge of being thrown in the garbage. Stores have to set high standards for what they can sell, so fruits and veggies have to match certain standards of freshness and appearance. These “reduced to clear” racks are often an amazing place to get mostly-good produce that you can use to make your own soups, stocks, and stews, or freeze to always have veggies and fruits handy for all your cooking needs. Plus, you’ll reduce the amount of food waste generated in your city, which is definitely good for the environment!
Visit farmer’s markets and other “local” grocers to try and buy food items that are grown locally (within 100 to 400 miles of the city where it’s sold). Not only will this support small and local businesses, but it means you’re buying produce that has been minimally transported and refrigerated. You’ll find amazing deals on local produce that will be healthy and delicious!
Make Your Own
Turn old produce into stocks, soups, and stews, or freeze fruits and vegetables to use for your own dishes. You’ll find that this is often much healthier, as canned and boxed sauces or soups tend to be higher in sodium and preservatives. You’ll also have more control over what you put in your food, and you can make sure that no food goes to waste in your house. It’s a bit more time-consuming, but it’s excellent for the environment and your wallet!