You are what you eat.
This old school saying that your parents used to coax you into eating your vegetables, has more truth to it now more than ever.
What you put on your plate has an impact on not only your body, but also the environment around you. With over 7.5 billion people on the planet, the way we produce, farm, and process our food reflects how long we can sustainably exist on this earth.
Our meat and dairy industries have a lot to answer for around their contribution to climate change, organic farming is becoming a necessity, and veganism is no longer the only way to consume food responsibly.
2019's New Diet has hit the streets and it isn't a fad.
Enter The Reducetarian.
Although veganism is often represented as the best option for consuming with the most positive impact on the planet, there’s more to it. For starters, not everyone is ready to jump into a diet that restricts them from many ordinary everyday items. Some may try, but fail after too many hardships and too much change.
Secondly, there’s also the issue with food packaging, food miles (the length an item of food has travelled to get to your plate), and where your waste goes once you’re finished with it.
So What Is This Reducetarian Movement?
A Reducetarian eats less meat (of all kinds), dairy, and eggs, with no drastic impulse or motivation to do so. They may commit to Meatless Mondays, meat only in the weekends, eggs on Saturdays, or a month on and a month off eating animal products. The choice is completely up to them!
The advantage of promoting a Reducetarian diet, is getting those most opposed to vegetarianism, on board. Many do not like to be boxed or labelled, but flexible and achievable goals are doable for them. A Reducetarian diet can result in many individuals eating meat slightly less, and greater awareness and education around the environmental, personal, and health benefits of reducing our animal intake.
A Climatarian may just be our very favourite way to eat. A Climatarian commits to eating:
- Food with less packaging: buying ‘naked’ food from bulk bin stores, farmer’s markets, and health food stores
- Whole foods that have not been processed
- Less meat
- Meat that has been farmed sustainably and ethically
- Locally grown produce
- Seasonal foods
- Organic produce
A climatarian will also:
- Compost their waste - See Ultimate Waste Guide here
- Reduce their food waste: use up every single morsel of food instead of throwing it away
- Grow what they can in their own garden
Our food systems are far too complex for us to ever understand it all, but sticking to organic, sustainably farmed, low waste, seasonal, and locally grown food is best for our bodies and the environment.
Shop the outer aisles at the supermarket (that’s where you’ll find whole foods), shop online or pop in-store to GoodFor or your local Bin Inn. If you’re in Auckland, Waikato, Christchurch, or Sydney, try Ooooby for a low waste vegetable box. They’ll even take back the box on the next collection too!
Let's Delve Into Some Of The Details...
The Meat & Dairy Industry
"We can't go on eating meat at the rate we have been," - Sir David Attenborough.
Farming animals has a huge impact on our planet; more than we expect. It involves deforestation to make way for grazing pastures, production of livestock feed, and water consumption for both the animals and the pastures they graze on. The gases produced by animals, particularly cows that emit methane gas into our atmosphere when they fart, also contribute to climate change; especially when there are billions of us attempting to eat meat and dairy with every meal!
49% of New Zealand’s greenhouse gases come from animal agriculture. Dairy is our biggest export, and as the demand for dairy grows due to the westernisation of diets in cultures who didn’t use to drink dairy, our environment suffers too. Uneducated manure and fertilisation management can cause local water resources to be compromised, and unsustainable dairy farms damage “ecologically important” ecosystems, such as wetlands and forests. Meanwhile, it is argued that our health suffers due to the over consumption of animal products too.
New Zealand is consistently working on ways to reduce agricultural impact by increasing the quality of farm management (e.g. fertiliser and irrigation management), and decreasing carbon emissions per animal. We’re also becoming more comfortable with meat and dairy free options, and vegetarianism is becoming more widely accepted as a social norm.
This brings us to the question: What about the impact of vegetable and grain farming too?
Those who eat only plants, also have to watch what they put in their mouths when it comes to eating sustainably and considering the health of themselves and the planet. You’ll find most conscious vegetable consumers buy produce labelled ‘organic’.
Organic vegetables, grains, or seeds are grown without the help of chemicals and pesticides. Organic farming practices preserve the environment surrounding the crops, and ensure the consumers of the food do not ingest harmful toxins. No wonder the ‘organic movement’ has taken off!
Biodiversity is helped in organic farming methods too, as the ecosystem is left to thrive on it’s own, with only natural interferences. Biodiversity describes the broad range of plant and animal species in one place. It is the underlying source of all life and enables all organisms to survive. Biodiversity’s worst nightmare: monocropping.
Monocropping describes the growth of only one kind of seed grown in one place, at the same time every year. Although this seems easy and simple for the farmer, particularly when there is pressure to mass produce, monocropping reduces biodiversity and comes with drastic issues.
Take a monocrop of apples, for example. The same plot is planted with the same type of apples year round. This means the soil only gets what the apple trees give, and lacks a balanced diet from other types of produce. The insect life is exclusive to only apple hungry mites and viruses, with no balance of crops that repel them. All this results in more and more pesticides required to grow a successful apple crop, which ultimately damages the soil even more, and can cause harm to the apple consumers.
With all this in mind, organic seems best. Yet, because of the drastic price increase compared to conventional produce, the label ‘organic’ often scares consumers away.
Lucky for us, there are some foods important to buy organic, and others not so important due to the way they grow and the amount of pesticides used to grow them.
Stick to the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen method…
The Dirty Dozen - 12 most important things to buy organic:
The Clean 15 - Items that are safe to buy conventional:
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas Frozen
- Honeydew Melons
Where you put your hard earned consumer dollar, matters more than you think. If you’re out shopping, stick to these lists to ensure you’re doing right by the planet and your body.
You are what you eat. So make it count.
- Auckland: Bin Inn Stores, Huckleberry, IE Produce, GoodFor, Commonsense Mount Eden
- Taranaki: Egmont Honey
- Thames: Thames Organic Shop
- Hamilton: Whole Heart, Bin Inn Dinsdale, Bin Inn St Andrews
- Raglan: WOK and Herbal Dispensary
- Mount Maunganui: Huckleberry, Be Organics
- Wellington: Commonsense, Moore Wilson's
- Napier: Chantal Shop
- Nelson: Bin Inn
- Christchurch: Piko Wholefoods, Bin Inn Stanmore Road, Wholefoods Health
- Dunedin: Bin Inn Dunedin, Marbecks Foodstore
- Southland: Holistic Health
Relevant Eco-Products that the Environment will love:
- CaliWoods Tumbler - Even so called 'compostable' coffee and smoothie cups are not all they cracked up to be.
- Wooden Cutlery Pack - Reduce single use plastic with these stylish and sustainable utensils!
- Produce Bags - Shop package free. See the Bulk Food Shopping Guide here.
- Tags: Advanced Eco Tips