There is a never-ending list of new wave health diets and labels that people seem to apply to themselves, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, flexitarianism or semi-vegetarian and many, many more. There are many reasons why people choose these specific diets, most of them are for good reasons. However, I don’t believe people need to label themselves as one thing and completely stick to that. I agree with most of the same principles, everyone should eat healthier, we should all eat less meat and more plant-based foods and foods that are sourced ethically and humanely. This topic is something we really care about so in this article we want to talk about how to eat ethically without labelling yourself.
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Eating ethically without a label
We should all be eating with the best intentions of providing our bodies with the nutrients we need while also being aware of how our food consumption affects the world in which we live. We don’t like to label ourselves as one thing or another and we don’t think you should either.
Eating less meat
Consuming meat is one of the biggest contributors to the destruction of the environment due to land clearing for both livestock and the foods needed to feed them. An analysis by World Watch showed that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564 million tons of CO2e per year or 51 per cent of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. If we all consumed less meat on a weekly basis we could make a serious impact. According to a 2015 study, ‘limiting the intake of animal flesh to just twice a week, it would be possible for an individual to reduce his/her environmental impact, generated by food consumption, by up to one-third.’
Ethical eating doesn’t mean you need to eliminate things like animal products from your diet completely. There are loads of ways in which to do this and it is extremely easy. Here in Australia, When purchasing animal products like milk, eggs, chicken, pork, beef and seafood choose only ethically sourced and raised. When shopping, only purchase products that are certified with organisations like the Australian RSPCA or Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for sustainable seafood. It doesn’t just include animal products but things like sustainably grown food sources like coffee, tea and cocoa as well. Choose only brands that are certified by companies like Rainforest Alliance. There are hundreds of other different organisations out there, just choose ones who promote and use only sustainable products. You can read more about it on the Sustainable Table website.
Know where your food comes from
Where your food originates is a big deal and it should determine the foods you consume. Locally grown and raised foods is good for lowering your carbon footprint. This, in turn, is good for the planet. On the contrary, foods that have to be transported long distances increases your carbon footprint. Try to avoid or at least limit the number of foods that have been imported from halfway around the world. Not only is it bad for the environment but it also means the food isn’t as fresh. Preservatives may also be added, extending the expiry date.
Here in Australia, most food packaging should tell you where your food comes from. Most packaged food in Australia will tell you how much of the ingredients are Australian. Sticking to Australian sourced foods is more ethical and better for the environment. If you’re from another country apply the same rules, buy locally sourced and grown.
We should all start to purchase and consume foods depending on when they are in season. Out of season produce could mean grown in artificial conditions or transported long distances. Foods transported long distances may have added preservatives to extend the expiry date. If you’re unsure about which foods are in season then here is a great seasonal guide supplied by Sustainable Table. If you’re from the Northern Hemisphere then the foods in season would be the opposite.
Growing your own food
One way we can all eat more ethically is if we stopped relying on purchasing our foods from supermarkets. Instead, we should all start growing our own stuff at home. Even in small spaces, we can grow fruits, vegetables and herbs. Growing our own food allows us to save money, limit our carbon footprint and produce our very own fresh, organic food.
If you have enough space you can even have your own free-range chickens or quails to lay eggs for you. You could harvest your own honey with a beehive or produce your own dairy with goats or a cow. Having your own animals to do this isn’t realistic for most people. However, eating less meat, purchasing ethically sourced foods, purchasing locally sourced and in-season foods, and growing your own fruits and vegetables are all very achievable, even for those living in small apartment spaces.