10 tips for eating for the planet
The planet is in peril, and it’s clear that we cannot restore it without transforming our food system.
Here's how we can all make changes to our diet to help us eat healthily and sustainably, in a way which is good both for both us and for the environment.
What we eat has changed the planet. Across the globe forests have been devastated to make space to rear cattle and to grow crops to feed livestock, while our oceans become barren as they are trawled and overfished. Food production is not only the greatest driver of wildlife loss, it contributes to climate change: about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food.
1. Eat more plants
Farming animals for meat and dairy requires space and huge amounts of water and feed. The livestock industry alone generates nearly 15% of all man made greenhouse gas emissions. With global meat consumption soaring 500% between 1992 and 2016, it is clear we need to rebalance our diets by prioritising plants and moderating our intake of animal products.
2. Eat more variety
75% of the world’s food supply comes from just 12 plants and five animal species. Greater diversity in our diets is essential as the lack of variety in agriculture is both bad for nature and a threat to food security. With Knorr we have identified the Future 50 Foods that can help reduce the environmental impact of our food system.
3. Use your voice
Right now, the Amazon is burning and the products that we are buying are part of the system that’s driving this devastation. We don’t need to burn or cut down one more tree, there’s more than enough land to grow food to feed 2 billion more people by 2050. Help us press the Government on the issue by demanding deforestation free food.
4. Find out about your fish
In the UK, we eat £4.5 billion worth of seafood each year, but high demand and poor management have led to overfishing, causing numbers of firm favourites, like North Sea cod and wild Atlantic salmon, to plummet. When shopping, look out for labels such as the blue MSC label or ASC, which signal that the fish comes from a well-managed source, and try lesser-known species like saithe, pollock and hake.
5. Cut the waste
Food waste is a big problem. 30% of the food produced is wasted, with serious repercussions for the environment. In fact, if food waste was a country it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gasses after China and the USA. Reducing waste in your household is simple: freeze anything you can’t eat while it’s fresh and, where possible, buy loose produce so you can select the exact amount that you need.
6. Grow your own food
What’s better than fresh, home-grown produce straight from the garden? As well as being healthy and delicious, it is free from the carbon footprint of shop-bought food.
7. Look for products containing RSPO certified palm oil
Unsustainable palm oil is responsible for large-scale deforestation, putting wildlife like orangutans and tigers under threat, as well as contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the risk of climate change. But rejecting palm oil all together could have unintended consequences as alternatives can be even worse for the environment, with some needing up to nine times as much land to produce. When you’re shopping look for products containing RSPO certified sustainable palm oil.
8. Get Giki
Giki is a free mobile app that provides ethical and sustainability information about more than 250,000 products. It can tell you anything from whether the packaging is recyclable to whether ingredients, including palm oil, were sourced responsibly. Find out more here.
9. Pass on plastic
Plastic has infiltrated our natural world and even our diets. Bring a reusable-bag when you shop, opt for packaging-free fruit and vegetables where possible, and ask brands and retailers that continue to use plastic to find alternatives.
10. Eat what’s in season
When possible try to include seasonal produce from your local farm shop or greengrocer in your diet. As well as supporting your local economy, you might get to know local producers and get tips on how to prepare seasonal foods.
What are we doing?
We’re lobbying governments to introduce and strengthen laws to protect nature and to halt the climate emergency. We’re also working with the fishing industry, farmers and businesses throughout the production chain, to help them feed the world’s growing population sustainably.
By teaming up with Sodexo (one of the world’s largest contract caterers) we are bringing planet-friendly food to 5,000 kitchens around the world, including universities throughout the British Isles, while our work with food brand Knorr is helping to introduce a wider variety of plant-based foods to chefs, stores and shoppers. Retailers are essential: with Tesco, we’re working together to halve the environmental impact of the average shopping basket.