Eating sustainably might be high on your priority list right now, especially with the rise in climate anxiety, especially among younger people. Climate anxiety is a term coined to describe the anxiety and sense of doom caused by the future of the planet, the environment and its sustainability. But doing our bit for the environment can often feel too small or like they don’t contribute. So we’ve got some tips to improve the sustainability of your diet, which in turn will do a little more to help the world and ease those worries about it.
If you’re not familiar with the term ‘climate anxiety’, put simply it is the term to describe the sense of fear, worry, and doom many more of us are starting to experience in relation to climate change.
In recent years, the adverse effects of global temperatures rising and climate change, like heatwaves, droughts, and floods, have become regular stories in the news and in our social media feeds. It’s easy to understand why it’s having more of an impact on our mental health.
While there are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint, recycle and reduce waste, and use eco-friendly products, in order to prevent damage to the plant, our personal efforts don’t often feel like they contribute enough to the bigger picture.
And this barrier leads many people to think “What’s the point?” Well, the point is, all our small personal efforts add up. If you, your partner and kids at home, 5 friends and 10 colleagues are all making the effort, this becomes quite significant - even if individually, everyone is doing one or two small things.
Another way to contribute to protecting the environment is to eat more sustainably. And don’t worry this doesn’t mean we all need to be vegan - but it’s a good place to start if you’re committed to changing up your diet. But it’s not for everyone and that’s ok - we’ve got some other options for you below.
Here are 5 ways to eat more sustainably:
Eat more plants
We know the production of meat has a strain on the environment, and more recently chicken has been trending so it’s not just about moderating your red meat consumption. But skipping the meat doesn’t mean skipping the protein. Legumes and meat-free alternatives like tempeh and tofu are good sources of the stuff. There are also plenty of flavours to find by eating more plants! And this is a great way to contribute without adopting an entirely plant-based diet, which may not be achievable for you.
Eat more variety
As a nation we’re not huge on mixing up our weeknight dishes, and likely because of the mental effort it can take to think of a new menu every week. We’ve all got our staple, go-to meals, but try adding more variety where you can. Research new recipes, follow a chef on Instagram or ask your Grandparents for a recipe you might have missed when you were younger for inspiration.
Reduce your waste
Whether it’s the packaging your food comes from or the leftovers that get dumped in the bin, try to reduce how much waste you create when cooking or preparing meals. Consider using refillable or reusable containers rather than buying foods with lots of packaging or plastic wrappers, most supermarkets now provide reusable bags for loose fruit and veg so keep an eye, plus it can be a little cheaper too. Learn more about scrappy cooking, or save your leftovers for lunch tomorrow, put your waste in a compost bin or save for other ingredients if you can.
Buy local produce or even grow your own
Try to source as much of what you buy as locally as you can to reduce the environmental impact. Or even grow your own veg or herbs, even some fruit in your back garden, or a sunny windowsill. Not only can it help the environment, but gardening can also be a mindful hobby and one that gets you moving too. A 3-in-1 if you like!
Cut back on processed foods
No, we’re not trying to trick you into ‘healthy’ eating. Although this is almost common sense for our wellbeing, it can benefit the environment too. Processed food production is more costly and impactful on the environment, so stick to having these as treats rather than the staple crisps and cakes many of us stock in our kitchen cupboards, or bake your own at home. baking can also be a stress-relieving exercise too, allowing you to be present in the moment rather than worrying about all the little things.
These are just some options we can consider when it comes to eating more sustainably, which will help to reduce any climate anxiety or worries you might be feeling. If ‘meat-free Mondays’ are as far as you can manage right away, that’s a good place to start. If you become a green-thumbed gardener with a blooming veg patch and a plant-based diet by the summer, that’s great too.
We can all do a little more to look after the planet we have so give these ideas a try and don’t forget even the small efforts really do add and the more of us getting involved, the better. Even giving these ideas a go once or twice a week, or as often as you can can contribute and make the changes feel more manageable.