Advancements in technology and science have made it possible for food manufacturing companies to transform our lifestyles. We’ve never had so much convenience and flexibility in the way we eat. Food is labelled and packaged according to a certain set of standards, and manufacturers are held accountable for failing to adhere to said standards. We can choose what we eat, avoid what we don’t want to eat, and measure exactly how much we need. All of this is possible with the knowledge we’ve gained over the years.
Educating ourselves is the first step to being aware of what we consume and where it comes from. Doing so gives us a greater sense of accountability and ensures we’re doing our part to make our world a better place.
Some people find that switching to a plant-based diet is their way of reducing their carbon footprint. However, a vegan diet is not always as environmentally friendly. The best way to ensure we’re eating consciously is by educating ourselves and knowing how to recognize food that isn’t helping us reach our goal.
If you’re looking to eat vegan and sustainably, start by becoming more conscious about where your food comes from. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Look for foods that are transported sustainably
When purchasing fruits and vegetables at the store, many people only pay attention to whether or not their purchases are organic. We rarely think about how our food was transported from one point to another. Yet, this is one of the biggest factors in sustainability. A big portion of the produce in our stores is air-transported from different locations, which contributes to more greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, when different types of berries are out of season in America, we rely on fruits imported from Europe. This means air transportation will be the quickest option to fill in out-of-season fruit gaps. Any product that has to be transported such a distance will leave a mark in terms of emissions.
While you don’t necessarily have to swear off ingredients that are shipped in from abroad, it’s a good idea to support your region and buy local when possible. When your fruits and vegetables don’t have to come a long way, they don’t leave as large a footprint. Look for a farmer’s market in your area and see what you can do to support local growers.
Learn more about the source of your raw ingredients
One thing that most consumers aren’t aware of is that plant-based ingredients are not always entirely organic unless stated. Many farms need to produce and harvest plants in mass to cater to the public's demand. This means harmful chemicals are sometimes used to speed up the process and protect crops from pests. However, these chemicals not only affect the soil but also evaporate and cause air pollution.
According to a study, artificial fertilizers contribute to 1.2% of global gas emissions. This is because these fertilizers emit carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. These gases ultimately added up and caused significant damage to the earth's atmosphere.
To ensure the foods you’re eating are both healthy and environmentally friendly, learn more about where they come from. Local growers, again, are a great choice because you can get to know the source of your food and support those you know are producing your dinner ingredients sustainably.
If you’ve decided that switching to a plant-based diet is how you want to minimize your carbon footprint, then kudos! You’ve made an admirable decision. That said, keep in mind that eating consciously goes beyond opting out of meat. Whenever possible, make the effort to understand where your ingredients come from and how they are produced. Not only will this help you further reduce your carbon footprint, but also give you a greater appreciation of the food you eat and how it nourishes your body.
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