Every Earth Day, we give you plenty of lists of things that you can do to help to save the planet or just increase your ecofriendly living quota. The irony of these, however, is that one of the most important changes you could make to your life that would ultimately help to drive environmental improvement is also one of the most intimate and personal changes that you can make. It’s not creating recycling bin systems or switching to biodiesel (though those are both great things). It’s changing how you eat and making it healthier. The truth is that the more you transition to a healthy form of eating, the more sustainable and ecofriendly your eating habits become. How is that possible? Let us walk you through it while also getting your mouth watering for your next meal!
An Unhealthy Diet Is Usually Also Unhealthy for the Planet
The first part to understanding how eating more healthily can benefit the earth is to comprehend how eating less healthily works to the planet’s detriment. If you’re in the throes of a super unhealthy way of eating, chances are that your diet has a high count of the following three things: processed foods, take-out, and pre-prepared meals (yes, obviously there is a lot of overlap among those three things). Once those things are in your body or the trash compactor, they’re not doing anything good. But above and beyond that, the process of creating them isn’t doing much good for the planet. Processed foods quite obviously mean lots of chemicals and manufacturing systems, and we know that those hurt the environment. All of those processed foods also travel a great distance from the manufacturing plant to your store, racking up polluting food miles along the way. Most processed and pre-prepared meals also come in a ton of packaging, some of which can be recycled but most of which can’t. Everything that we just pointed out is also true for take-out food, but in most cases you can add the additional earth-bruise of a plastic bag. When you eat these unhealthy choices, you’re not only making your own body weaker, you’re making the planet weaker.
Healthy Planet Change Number One That Happens When You Eat More Healthily: Less Trash
One of the first changes that happens when you start eating healthily is that you start eating fewer processed foods and pre-prepared meals and more fresh fruits and vegetables. Guess what? Fresh fruits and vegetables don’t come in cardboard or plastic packaging (for the most part) and bringing your own reusable bag can cut down on even having to use a disposable packaging solution at all. As soon as you reduce how much packaging you’re using, you reduce how much you’re contributing to harming the biosphere. It’s a win/win. You feel better, likely lose weight and the landfill loses size as well! Just remember that not all fruits and vegetables are harmless when it comes to food miles. There are certainly fruit and vegetable choices that you can make down the line, once you’ve adjusted to your new healthy life, that are better for the planet.
Healthy Planet Change Number Two That Happens When You Eat More Healthily: Less Pollution
Less food made in a manufacturing plants means less pollution. This one is the simplest if/then that can happen on this list! We’re certainly not denying that there’s pollution and a certain amount of carbon footprint created by growing and handling any kind of food, even fresh healthy food. However, industrial pollution versus agricultural pollution isn’t even a close competition (yet).
Healthy Planet Change Number Three That Happens When You Eat More Healthily: Possibly Less Overall Carbon Footprint Due to Meat
We in no way think that eating more healthily mandates that you become a vegetarian. But there are plenty of studies out there that support the concept that most people in the western world eat too much meat and that reducing your meat intake with something as simple as Meatless Mondays can have significant health benefits. Here’s the best part of that idea: Not only will it make you healthier but by far the biggest food production carbon footprint culprit in the world is meat. If you’re curious as to how that is, we’ve explained the reality of it as it relates to a Thanksgiving dinner. Once you realize how harmful mass meat production is to the planet, you may even be motivated to reduce meat for reasons other than health.
Healthy Planet Change Number Four That Happens When You Eat More Healthily: Possibly Fewer Food Miles
This one isn’t a given, because there are plenty of ways to embrace a healthier diet without focusing on local and sustainable food. However, we’ve noticed that there is an evolution that happens as people begin to eat more healthily. We’ve noticed that they then begin to care about the source of their food more, and that often leads them down a path of becoming more involved in purchasing and using locally grown (or even homegrown) food. It’s not a requirement to eating more healthily, but it is often an outcome. And when you focus on sustainable and local, you reduce harmful food miles and help the planet in very real ways.
Whether or not you’re considering going on your own journey to healthier eating, there are plenty of small changes that you can make (and that you may not even be aware of) that will make your eating and cooking habits more eco-friendly. We’ve put together a list of our favorite twenty-five of them right here.
We’re sure that we missed something on this list! After all, there are so many ways that making personal and intimate health decisions can better the planet. Can you think of one that we missed? Tell us about it on the social media channels below!