Eating sustainably can be delicious, beautiful and simple. Last week me and my friend Malin cooked a modified version of this Baked Aubergine with beluga lentils recipe from Green Kitchen Stories. I’m not too fond of brussel sprouts so I left those out from the recipe and added pepper and field beans instead.
It’s a myth that it is difficult to know how to eat more sustainably. Yes, if you look at minor details like knowing whether a Spanish tomato or a Finnish greenhouse-grown tomato in February is better, then I understand it might feel a bit complicated. The thing is: that’s splitting hairs. If you have time, by all means, it’s good to do research, but these choices aren’t the most important ones. If you follow these simple rules, the impact you food has on our environment is already much better!
- Avoid all red meat
- Eat less dairy products
- Eat less rice & less imported quinoa
- Eat less avocado
- Eat mostly local and seasonal vegetables and grains
These are very simple rules, no one needs to study a lot to make a huge impact on the environment globally by choosing not to eat certain kinds of food. Also, remember that the option with less plastic packaging is always better! For vegetables and fruit, you can get a reusable bag like this one. In the end, it does not matter if people occasionally buy the “wrong kind of tomato” as long as we look at the big picture and at the foods that really have a big impact. I managed to follow the “Vegan January” challenge and ate (mostly) vegan for a full month and only slipped twice! It actually wasn’t too difficult. So if eating vegan isn’t very difficult, then avoiding those listed things at least 6 out of 7 days a week shouldn’t be impossible for anyone. Personally, now that my one month challenge is over, I do still eat small amounts of cheese as well as avocado and rice. But only on special occasions when I’m at a restaurant or someone else treats me to food ,which is rarely more than once or twice a month.
A short reminder to why everyone should avoid the listed things…The meat industry pollutes a lot. The Baltic sea, many lakes and rivers in several countries are in such bad condition because of the meat industry. Cows consume a lot of natural resources, so cut down on your consumption of cheese, yoghurt and milk. Get oat, coconut or soy alternatives instead. Cows also produce methane. Rice is extremely water intensive and fresh water is scarce in many places, additionally rice cultivation produces methane which is even worse for the climate than CO2. Save the sushi for special occasions! Avocado plantations often lead to deforestation and acute drought. The avocado requires a lot of water, and when that water is taken from lakes and rivers nearby, they dry out. Avocados also rot really easily. 54,000 tonnes of avocado and other stone fruits are thrown away every year in the UK!! The less we buy, the less will in the end be imported and thrown away. 54 000 tonnes!!
What to eat then? Green Kitchen stories really has amazing vegetarian recipes. Vegetables grown in your own country get amazing tastes with these recipes. Just stay away from the recipes containing too much cheese, avocado or rice or replace those ingredients with something else. There are environmentally “unfriendly” foods such as quinoa, that are grown organically in Europe too so you don’t need to stop eating it, just choose the right kind.
ps. between November and February/Mars, the Spanish tomato is actually more environmentally friendly, during the rest of the year, buy the locally grown version. In northern Europe: Canned tomatoes are the most sustainable during the winter! But don’t worry about that too much if it feels too complicated 🙂