With busy schedules to think about, it’s not always easy to make sure you’re eating the healthiest options possible. This is especially true if you’re trying to make your diet more eco-friendly in the process. In the last month, we covered a whole range of green eating tips on the blog, including our top tips for trying a plant-based diet and how to save the most wasted foods from landfill. Today, we’re back with another instalment! Keep reading to discover 8 delicious, easy and healthy food swaps that are good for you and the environment!
8 Healthy Food Swaps That Are Better for the Environment
1. Ditch Red Meat
You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s time for one final reminder: it’s time to wave goodbye to red meat and say hello to healthier forms of protein. While it can offer some nutritional benefits, red meat also increases your risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease, strokes and certain types of cancer. Instead of dishing up a rib-eye steak or a mince-based bolognese, why not try swapping it for something a little healthier? Plant-based proteins like tofu or seitan are great swaps for red meat, ideal for adding to a stew or replacing a burger. If you’re not quite ready to make the complete transition, that’s okay too! Chicken breast is much better for you than red meat, so just eat more of that instead.
2. Double Up on Veg
If you already eat a balanced diet, you might be wondering how you can level up your healthy recipes to make them even better for you and the environment. There’s one tactic in particular that has the potential to change the game: double up on your veg. Fresh vegetables bought from your local grocery store are a brilliant way to move towards a plant-based diet, all while protecting the planet in the process. In fact, Malaysia’s food guide recommends you to eat plenty of fruits and veg. Instead of eating bags of processed rice or stacks of fatty meats, step up your vegetable intake and see how good you feel for it!
3. Oats, Oats and More Oats
While they’re also a brilliant source of slow-release energy, oats offer some significant benefits when it comes to protecting the environment. One study suggests that oats emit 50% less carbon by weight than quinoa and less than a quarter as much as rice. Since oats also require a lot less water to grow successfully, plant-based diet swaps like oat milk are much greener than dairy or almond alternatives. You can use oats in just about anything, so don’t be afraid to get creative with your healthy recipes. As well as swapping your boxed cereals for a bowl of delicious porridge, you can also add oats to a whole range of savoury dishes to make them more filling.
4. Broccoli Is the Ultimate Sidekick
If you’re already into the healthy eating scene, asparagus is probably one of the delightful (yet slightly more expensive) vegetables you’ve given a go. While it certainly is a delicious option and makes any meal feel more luxurious, broccoli will always reign supreme. Wastewater is a big issue when it comes to climate change and global warming. Agriculture uses 70% of the world’s water consumption, so it’s important to be aware of how your purchases increase demand for wasteful produce. Asparagus requires 258 gallons of water per pound, while broccoli only uses 34. It’s just as healthy, but much cheaper AND less taxing on the environment.
5. Sunflower Over Palm Oil
While no oil comes without its faults, palm oil is one of the worst culprits when it comes to harming the environment. It’s the main driver of deforestation, causing the loss of critical habitats for endangered species like the orangutans, pygmy elephant and Sumatran rhino. Sunflower oil is an excellent healthy food swap because it’s plant-based, requires little water to be produced and is generally free from any nasty GMOs. Olive oil is also a super healthy option, but be mindful of how much water it demands from the planet before it reaches our shelves.
6. Always Free-Range or Grass-Fed Dairy
If you’re not quite ready for the complete transition to a plant-based diet, there are still plenty of healthy food swaps you can make to have a positive impact. One simple change that requires little to no effort at all is shopping free-range or grass-fed instead of more traditional, more affordable options. While caged eggs might be the cheaper option at the grocery store, their cost to the environment is much higher, not to mention their inhumane treatment of animals. Grass-fed and free-range animals produce much healthier produce and live a happier life in the process.
7. Go Wholegrain
Whether you’re eating pasta, bread or rice this evening, why not make a healthy food swap and opt for wholegrain instead? The white alternatives are refined and processed, demanding more energy and resources than the simple milling of brown grains. Wholegrain options are also much better for your health, packed with nutrients including protein, fibre, vitamin B and plenty of antioxidants. When eaten in large quantities, they’ve also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. If you’re looking for the ultimate healthy food swap, this is the ideal solution!
8. Shop Loose Over Plastic-Packed
Whether you’re starting a plant-based diet or just want to make some healthier choices, one of the easiest things you can do is purchased loose produce instead of packaged. The world produces 381 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, a considerable portion of that created by unnecessary food packaging. Loose produce is often much fresher than its pre-wrapped counterparts, plus you get more choice over which items you buy. Your food will last longer because you’ll be able to avoid any bruised or rotten veg, AND you’ll be doing your bit to save the planet.
Want more tips on living a sustainable life? Visit the FoodCycler blog to find out about our mission and collect some eco-conscious tips along the way!