How to eat ethically and environmentally friendly

People often move to a plant-based diet as they think that it is more environmentally friendly and ethical. However recent evidence is starting to show that while meat production certainly has its environmental impact, so does plant-based diets.

This is because plant-based diets derive nutrients from agricultural foods, which also has a significant impact on the environment. Industrial agriculture and mono-cropping leads to loss of animal ecosystems, as well as the death of smaller creatures like snakes and rabbits when fields are being cleared.

Essentially, everything we eat always has an environmental cost. Many plant-based diets allow for the consumption of processed foods, fake meats and restaurant and takeout foods that don’t contain animal products. The intake of these foods is increasing significantly in our modern world due to people cooking less and using more food delivery services. This is because some people don’t know how to cook healthy meals and as a society, we are becoming lazier, time poor and spending less time prioritizing our health.

It is likely that the over-composition of these foods and food sources is what is really damaging our environment. Processed foods almost always contain vegetable oils (i.e. canola, safflower, cottonseed, soy etc.) and almost all restaurants/takeout joints cook with these oils, which are derived from industrial agriculture. Many processed foods also contain grains like soy and wheat, as well animal-based products like gelatine. These are the things that are increasing the need for agriculture and meat production, which is damaging our environment.

An omnivores diet is absolutely essential for human health and there are nutrients in both animal and plant-based foods that are vital for our wellbeing. Removing the one, without supplementation, puts you at risk of nutrient deficiencies and various health issues. Humans evolved on an omnivores diet.

Therefore, I don’t think the answer is to stop eating meat. The answer is to become all round more conscious of our food choices. The answer is to eat a more whole-food diet that contains minimal amounts of processed foods and takeout/restaurant foods.

If you are concerned about the livelihood of the animals that you are eating, buy local and find farmers who produce meat for you ethically. A local farmer’s market is a great way to do this. This also helps decrease the carbon footprint of your food.

And lastly, in order to reduce food packing, buy loose food where possible and use reusable/recyclable bags/containers.