If you’ve been drawn towards this article, then I can only imagine that you feel passionate about the environment, your health, and the mark that you leave on this earth. My interest in sustainability first began a couple years ago when I was introduced to a vegan diet. This diet seemed perfect for me because it reduced my environmental impact, limited greenhouse gas emissions, and focused on my overall health. As time went on and new issues were brought to my attention, I started to question new principles about sustainability. Some of these included transportation, food waste, and plastic consumption. These new challenges in my life led me to Our Positive Planet, a place where people are able to share environmental success stories on topics they are passionate about.
Throughout this series, I am going to share some tips that will help you transform your diet to be more sustainable. It is important to remember that every little bit counts. It can be intimidating to approach a new concept all at once, so please take one tip at a time or find the values that are the most meaningful to you.
- Eat local.
Eating local is better for the environment. Purchasing from local farmers reduces the distance that is required for the food to be transported from the farm or producer to your plate. By reducing your “food miles” you are helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improving your carbon footprint. Not only does consuming local produce improve your carbon footprint, it also supports local economies and provides a living to the members of your local community.
This issue came to my attention when I realized how much of my produce was coming from communities across the province and/or country that I live in. One conversation that really impacted my grocery shopping routine was that if you are purchasing mangos and avocado from southern countries, you are taking resources from other areas and using an enormous amount of fossil fuels during transportation. Therefore, you are damaging the community that you are taking from, exhausting their water and soil resources, and then transporting across the globe to get the food item onto your plate. In order to reduce this issue, I would recommend being a conscious consumer. Pay close attention to the production labels or attend a local farmers’ market to ensure you are getting produce that is local and fresh.
- Eat less meat and more fruits and vegetables.
Animal agriculture has an enormous impact on the environment; it releases greenhouse gases and fossil fuels and requires an abundance of fresh water. The meat and dairy industry uses approximately 1/3 of the earth’s fresh water resources. Start by cutting out meat from your diet once a week (meatless Monday) and gradually transform this action into a routine. Taking small actions towards change will gradually build up and make a difference.
Not only does reducing your meat consumption decrease your eco-footprint, it is also better for your overall health. A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, etc.) has been proven to reduce your risk of developing chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, as well as improve your overall longevity.
Consuming more fruits and vegetables in place of animal products will decrease your carbon footprint and environmental impact. There are many useful resources online that highlight the importance of reducing your meat and dairy consumption– two of my favourites are Cowspiracy and What the Health. Based on their research, a plant-based diet cuts a consumer’s carbon footprint by 50%.
Who are some of your favourite local vendors?