Written by Kendall West, VMRC Wellness Center Fitness Assistant
Sustainable Nutrition, simply put, is nutrition that is produced and delivered in a way that is mindful of people, the planet, and society. There are four dimensions of sustainable nutrition: health/nutrition, economic, environmental, and socio/cultural.
All the dimensions should be included in the thought process when choosing which foods to eat for consumers and how to source materials for new production of those in the food production industry. This change is currently underway, with many global food companies thinking of sustainable strategies.
For most diets, people want to see a weight change, feel better, and increase overall health. A sustainable diet differs because it improves health outcomes, reduces the environmental impact of food production and consumption, is affordable, and is culturally acceptable.
Tips for following a sustainable diet:
- Follow regional dietary guidelines
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Diversify and shift the balance of protein intake towards more plant-based sources
- Limit foods high in fat, salt or sugar
- Choose sustainable sources of fish and seafood
- Waste less food.
Sustainable food examples:
- Beans - widely produced and available. Easy to incorporate into diet.
- Mussels - underrated seafood. Most are farmed, using long lines strung out into the water so there are no large amounts of by-catch or destruction to coral reefs.
- Organic Fruits and Vegetables - less pesticide and more natural. Choose in-season options when available.
- Leafy Greens - easy to produce in large amounts while using minimal resources. Offer a lot of variety
- Rice - hardy and offers high energy content - easy to grow, cultivate, cook and store.
- Lentils - a type of legume that is a fantastic source of protein. Perfect for salads, soups and curries.
- Bison - a good meat source. Helps restore vegetation through trampling and grazing tactics.
Why does it matter and how does it affect us? The primary goal is to achieve the best health outcomes by recognizing and acting on the interconnections between people, animals, soil, and the planet. There are small changes each of us can make to live a more sustainable life, whether it is the foods we eat and buy or how to care for the environment. Next time you are at the grocery store, think about the four dimensions of sustainable nutrition, and buy what you can to keep your lifestyle a little more sustainable.
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