Easy ways to eat more sustainably

We now know the food we eat influences both our own health and the health of the planet. It’s became a large part of everyday news, the headlines and can be quite overwhelming. With energy costs, farming, water, material and so much more to think about food can seem only a small part of the problem. But we know it’s an important element with research suggesting as high as 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions are linked to the food industry (1). 

In 2016 some action was taken. A review of government guidelines incorporated sustainability into the Eatwell Guide for the first time (2). This involved lowering energy intake and streamlined overall recommendations in line with Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). The Carbon Trust Report, 2016, indicated if the population adopted this eat well guide we could:

  • Reduce Greenhouse gas emissions by 31%
  • Observe a 34% reduction in land use
  • Plus a 17% reduction in water use
  • Increase years of healthy living by 17.9million

So, how can we improve our diet to eat more sustainably? 

  1. Eat more plants

This doesn’t need to mean going vegan overnight, not even vegan at all. Simply adding more plant based foods in our diets. The more plants in our diets (especially fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, legumes) the better. They are the perfect example of food with high nutritional value, lower environmental impact and better health outcomes. 

  1. Reduce red meat and dairy intake 

Moderate amounts of dairy, poultry and fish; and small of red meat (less but better meats/livestock products e.g., pasture fed, extensive regenerative livestock systems, recognizing in some part of the world consumption will need to increase to meet nutritional needs).

Why not try beans, lentils, chickpeas or tofu instead of meat for one meal and see how it goes? 

  1. Reduce consumption of foods high in sugars, salt and saturated fats

These are often more sustainably damaging to produce.  

  1. Reduce food waste 

Today, we already produce 30%-40% more calories than necessary but one third of all food grown globally is wasted somewhere across the food value chain (3). 

To help reduce try: 

  • Cooking and bending leftover veg before it goes bad into sauces or soups or blend into a smoothie 
  • Using your freezer
  • Growing your own 
  1. Buy local and seasonal 

Helping to support the local community this results in shorter value chains that connect citizens with farmer and can also reduce food waste on a larger scale. 

  1. Drink more water 

While we need to be mindful of water usage, we also need to stay hydrated. Aiming to get our hydration from safe and clean tap water in preference to bottled water, sweetened and fizzy soft drinks can save on plastic and a whole lot of manufacturing and processing (3).

7. Eat fish from sustainable sources including wild caught and farmed

Look out for ASC-MSC Seaweed Standard. This certification indicates that fish have been sustainably sourced (4). 

Aiming to eat a wide variety of foods including wholegrains, legumes, fruit and vegetables and achieving balance between energy intake and energy needs are the backbones behind the mind field. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to master everything at once and reduce everything immediately. If we all make small changes it can have a big impact on the planet. 


  1. BDA Blue Dot https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/one-blue-dot.html
  2. https://www.carbontrust.com/resources/the-eatwell-guide-a-more-sustainable-diet
  3. https://tastingthefuture.com/2020/03/08/sustainable-nutrition-rethinking-sustainability/
  4. https://www.asc-aqua.org/what-we-do/our-standards/seaweed-standard/
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