Terms like Sustainable nutrition or regional, vegan and seasonal nutrition are increasingly buzzing around in the media and in our heads these days. But how can I actually make my diet sustainable?
In this article, I explain which aspects are part of sustainable nutrition and how you can bring sustainability into your kitchen.
For a better overview I have added a Table of contents for you:
- Regional & Seasonal Food
- Organic & Demeter products
- Fairtrade nutrition
- Vegan diet
- Palm oil renunciation
- Plastic renunciation
- Cook yourself
- Reduce food waste
- Dispose of organic waste sustainably
- Tips & Tricks
- Closing words
Notes: Sustainable nutrition starts with the production of food and ends with the recycling of leftovers. In between lies your shopping behavior, how and what you cook and, above all, how much food you throw away. So that you can consider as many aspects as possible to make your diet sustainable, I will explain how you can easily bring sustainability into your kitchen step by step. At the end of the article you will find the chapters Sustainable nutrition tips and tricks and the chapter on corresponding Buch recommendations.
Regional and seasonal food for a sustainable diet
The use of regional and seasonal food is a particularly strong factor in making your diet sustainable. Regional and seasonal cultivation means that far fewer pollutants are emitted because no greenhouses, irradiation or long transportation routes are required to produce the food.
In addition, the Fruit and vegetables ripen better, as they do not have to be harvested before they are ripe and then transported for a long time. Ripe fruit and vegetables therefore tend to contain more nutrients and naturally also have a better taste.
Anticipation is the greatest joy
From a psychological point of view, eating regional and seasonal foods also has an advantage: if you have gone without a food for a long time, you appreciate it much more when it is in season. And the anticipation of your favorite vegetables is also greater than when they are available all year round. And if you don't want to go without your favorite vegetables or fruit for so long, you can always try to buy lots of other foods seasonally. Or you can make your favorite fruit last longer, for example by Dry strawberries.
Tools for a seasonal diet
The absolute basic tool for seasonal shopping and cooking is a Seasonal calendar for fruit and vegetables. This shows you which fruit and vegetables are currently ripe. In the article seasonal shopping to find out more! With these tools, you can easily bring sustainability into your kitchen and diet.
Self-sufficiency for sustainable nutrition
Your own garden offers the ideal conditions for a self-sufficient diet. Tomatoes, beans or lettuce - you can grow everything yourself. But even if you don't have a garden, you can convert a large part of your diet to self-sufficiency in the kitchen.
Self-sufficiency in the garden for a sustainable diet
Having your own garden not only offers the opportunity to grow food, but is also a great hobby for many people. Having your own vegetable patch is a great way to make your own diet sustainable, regional and seasonal. Not only do you avoid unnecessary transportation from the grower to the food market and pollutants, you also save money and the trip from home to the supermarket. It couldn't be more regional :-).
Because you don't normally have a huge, heated greenhouse greenhouse, you automatically produce food seasonally. Consequently you save on electricity costs and emit fewer pollutants than in commercial food commercial food production. Your own garden is therefore the epitome of seasonal nutrition and a great way to make your own diet sustainable. to shape your own diet.
In the book "It can also be easy: gardening for self-sufficient people with little time and space" you'll find lots of tips on how to get a lot out of a little space.
Self-catering in the kitchen
If you don't have your own garden, you can still grow your own herbs in the kitchen or a few tomatoes on the balcony. Your options are therefore somewhat more limited than with your own garden. But with a little creativity and a nice, bright location for your vegetable pots, you can also grow food in your kitchen. Tomatoes, radishes and, of course, culinary herbs such as rosemary or basil are particularly suitable for this. In the article about 10 healthy plants to grow yourself Christoph shows you which plants are particularly healthy and easy to grow in your own kitchen.
Organic and Demeter products promote more sustainable food production
We also hear time and again that organic or Demeter food is more ecological than conventionally produced food. food. But what exactly is behind this? Is organic really more sustainable? And what is the difference between organic and Demeter food?
Stricter guidelines apply to the production of organic food than to conventional food production. For example, care is taken to reduce soil pollution, avoid genetic engineering and preserve soil fertility. In addition, the emission of pollutants is lower than for conventional food. In addition to these ecological advantages, organic production also offers producers a better livelihood. In my opinion, the greatest health advantage of organic products is the reduction of harmful substances used. In organic production, only around 10 % of the additives used in conventional production may be used.
Make your diet sustainable with Demeter products
The Demeter seal is a special organic seal that has even stricter stricter guidelines than the standard organic label. The most important advantages of the Demeter label over the EU organic label are
- Total farm conversion, i.e. the entire farm becomes a becomes a Demeter farm. Some organic farms can still produce conventional food. produce conventional food
- 100 % of the feed for the animals must be organic feed 66.66 % even Demeter feed
- 50 % of the feed must come from the own farm
- Dispensing with the painful dehorning of cows
- Only a few and absolutely necessary additives
Organic and Demeter labels are therefore great ways to bring more sustainability into your diet, as more attention is paid to ecological aspects in production.
Making nutrition sustainable with Fairtrade products
Similar to organic or Demeter products, fair trade products offer more sustainable structures for producers and developing countries. However, it should be noted that not all fair trade products are necessarily organic products, even though this is often the case. Many fair trade products offer a combination of organic products and fair prices for producers, which I personally think is great.
Of course, I don't buy everything fair trade either (it's not even possible at the moment), but I think that you should buy at least some of your food fair trade. Especially when it comes to foodstuffs where poor production conditions prevail, it is important to buy fair trade products. Some examples of this would be bananas, coffee or coffee beans, chocolate or cocoa or cane sugar.
Most of you will be familiar with the Fairtrade seal from TransFair, but there are several other seals such as El Puente, fair+ from Gepa or the Rainforest Alliance seal. If you spot these seals on products, you are supporting the producers and can make your shopping behavior and diet more sustainable.
Is a vegan diet good for the environment?
This point is particularly important to me personally because vegan diet not only has an impact on the environment, but also on your health your health and, of course, the living conditions of many animals. In this article, I would like to focus on the environment and sustainability. . Is a vegan diet healthy and sustainable?
On the subject Nutrition and climate I have written a whole, detailed article for you. However, I would like to briefly summarize the most important factors here:
- Resource Input
- Emissions and greenhouse effect
- Agricultural acreage
- Water consumption (There are also vegan foods foods that require a lot of water in production, these include cocoa beans cocoa beans and avocado, among others)
University of Oxford: Sustainable Nutrition Study
First, I would like to introduce you to what is probably the most most comprehensive study on sustainable nutrition. The study from Oxford University in England was carried out by Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek conducted by Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek. The two authors explored the question of how we can make our can make our diet sustainable. Exactly our current topic. In the study, data from 38,700 farms in 119 countries was analyzed over several years farms in 119 countries were analyzed over several years and the environmental impact of of 40 foodstuffs (production, packaging, distribution). These 40 represent about 90 % of our food and are therefore very representative. representative.
First of all, the results of the study: there is no more effective contribution to environmental protection than avoiding animal products. Even giving up cars or air travel is less effective than eliminating animal products from your diet. But why is that the case? Are animal products really so much worse for the environment?
Animal products require a lot of arable land and have high pollutant emissions
According to the study 83 % of all agricultural land is required for the production of meat and dairy products. land, while animal products provide only 18 % of all calories in an average diet. in an average diet. In addition, these 18 % of calories are responsible for 60 % of the greenhouse gases produced by agriculture.
So if we were to do without the consumption, and consequently the production of animal products, we would free up a large part of the agricultural agricultural land and save a huge amount of greenhouse gases. greenhouse gases. The land that would be freed up would allow the rainforest could recover and, in addition, endangered animal species could species could recover and increase their populations, as more territories would be available to them again. would be available to them again. Both would have a very positive impact on the stability of our ecosystem.
Finally, a fun fact about the study: author Joseph Poore did not eat a vegan diet at the beginning of the study, but changed his diet during the study and now eats a vegan diet. Here is the Link to study.₁ If you would like to try it out, I recommend the article Vegan living - 11 tips for vegan start.
Eating sustainably by avoiding palm oil
For the cultivation of Many forests are cut down for palm oilwhich are very important for our ecosystem. In addition, native animals are losing their homes. This particularly affects orangutans, Borneo pygmy elephants and Sumatran tigers. Palm oil products are generally highly processed and therefore tend to be unhealthy. Three good reasons - environment, animals, health - therefore speak against the consumption of palm oil products.
There's not much more to say on this point: if you want your diet to be healthy and sustainable, you should try to reduce your consumption of products containing palm oil. There are often very good alternatives without palm oil, just look left and right on the supermarket shelves and you might quickly find a sustainable alternative for your diet. Of course, the Refrain from substitute products.
Buying food plastic free
We at CareElite have discussed the plastic problem many times and written many articles about it - for example in the article Vegan and plastic free. Just recently, Christoph has also completed his first Plastic-free book for beginners written. The amount of plastic waste we produce every day is unbelievable. If we continue at the current rate, there could be three times as much plastic waste floating in the oceans as fish by 2050. Another problem is the low recycling rates. On average, only around 30 % of plastic waste is recycled in Europe. The best way to get to grips with plastic waste is therefore not to produce or consume any more plastic.
Through targeted, plastic free shopping of food is where we can start. Weekly markets, unpackaged stores and organic vegetable stores, which often offer unpackaged fruit and vegetables, offer simple ways to make your shopping behavior sustainable. To prevent your potatoes from tumbling around loose when you go shopping, I recommend using a Fruit and vegetable bags. You buy the bag once and can use it again and again. Traditional supermarkets are also offering more and more food in bulk.
Do it yourself ideas for sustainable nutrition
There are many foods that you can easily make yourself at home. Often you'll also save money. I have compiled a list of DIY articles on nutrition that can serve as inspiration for you to make your diet healthy and sustainable.
- Make macadamia milk yourself (also works with oats or other nuts)
- Make cashew cream yourself
- Make hummus yourself
- Make your own sugar-free crunchy muesli
- Make your own kale chips
- Making celery salt yourself
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. There are many more DIY options that you can use to make your diet sustainable. I'll keep you up to date here at CareElite.
Reduce food waste
On the subject of Reduce food waste there are many ways to reach your goal. First of all, you should try to buy only as much as you really need. This is usually relatively easy for single households, but it becomes more complicated when a second person joins the household.
Best before date or expiration date?
So what can you do to use food as efficiently as possible? First of all, you should know that the best-before date is not the same as an expiration date. Food that has passed its best-before date can (and usually is) still be perfectly fine. It's not as if a switch flips when the best-before date expires and the food is no longer edible. Of course, you should still make sure that the food is still edible. So if you don't immediately throw away all food that has passed its best-before date, you have already taken a big step towards reducing food waste and eating more sustainably than before.
In the article Keep food for longer there are plenty of tips and even more inspiration for you.
Making soups and smoothies
If your food is no longer quite so fresh there are various ways of dealing with this. For overripe vegetables you can often make soup by simply pureeing the vegetables. If the zucchini has already become a little soft and you can no longer fry it crispy, it can still cut a fine figure in a soup. in a soup. The same principle applies to fruit - if you have overripe fruit that has already a little soft, you can simply throw it into a smoothie. The overripe fruit usually tastes particularly good and the soft consistency goes down in the blender. In addition, soups and smoothies can be real nutrient bombs and are therefore absolutely conducive to making your diet healthy and and sustainable.
Drying fruit and vegetables
To preserve fruit or vegetables for longer, e.g. before you go on vacation or if you have bought too much, you can dry them. I highly recommend using a dehydrator for this, as it really gets all the moisture out of the fruit or vegetables. In the oven, the likelihood of something burning or residual moisture remaining in the fruit/vegetables is too high. If you're still craving delicious berries after the strawberry season, it's a good idea to buy lots of strawberries during the season and then dry them. I'll show you exactly how this works in my article on Dry strawberries.
Foodsharing and donations to the food bank
Another option for using up food before you go on vacation, for example, is to Foodsharing. Here you can either donate your food in the traditional way or save food yourself that would otherwise have ended up in the bin.
Dispose of food properly with the worm bin
Fittingly, Christoph has written you an article called Correct waste separation in everyday life written. Of course, this topic also includes the correct disposal of organic food.
A particularly good way to dispose of food or organic waste more sustainably is the so-called worm bin. Worm bin? Yes, you heard - or read - correctly. I recently spoke to Christoph again about the worm bin because he has a worm bin at home and is enthusiastic about it. With the worm bin, you can compost a large proportion of your organic waste in your home and thus reduce your own waste volume. No odors, no fruit flies. And you can find out how it all works in the contribution to the worm box.
Sustainable nutrition - tips and tricks
After all these points, your head may already be buzzing with your head a little and you don't even know where to start with all the ideas. where to start. To make it a little easier for you to get started, here are some practical tips and tricks for sustainable nutrition to get you started.
Replace exotic foods with local foods
One of the easiest tips and tricks for sustainable nutrition is to simply replace less sustainable foods with sustainable alternatives. Some exotic foods can be replaced almost one-to-one with a regional food. Just buy it:
- Flaxseed instead of chia seeds
- Couscous or bulgur instead of quinoa - if you want gluten-free, you can use buckwheat or millet
- Blueberries instead of acai berries
- Strawberries instead of goji berries
- Parsnips instead of sweet potatoes
I am of course aware that these foods are not an exact replica of the other food in terms of nutritional value, but the foods mentioned are very similar, so you don't have to do without anything. What's more, when you buy these regional foods, you are often not only protecting the environment, but also your wallet.
Replace processed with unprocessed food
It is often very easy to replace processed foods with unprocessed or less processed foods. The following foods are particularly easy to swap:
- Brown instead of white rice
- Whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta
- Homemade baked potatoes instead of pre-fried chips (tip: parsnip "chips" from the oven are also very tasty)
- Mix your own muesli instead of using ready-mixes with lots of sugar (tip: take a look at my article Make your own sugar-free crunchy muesli)
- Tea or homemade lemonade instead of soft drinks
- Make your own dips instead of using ready-made dips (Tip: In my post Make hummus yourself, you will find many hummus recipes for dipping )
- Dried dates or apricots instead of sweets
Of course, not every food can be substituted one for one, but often the unprocessed version serves the same purpose as the processed one. When I have a craving for something sweet, I eat a handful of dates. They are unprocessed because they are sun-dried and they are also sweet, healthy and packaged in a 10 kilo box, which saves a lot of plastic.
Eat whole foods instead of processed
The more you follow the "whole foods" principle, the less processed your food will automatically be. Avoiding highly processed foods has several advantages. Firstly, from an ecological point of view, you save on the energy required for processing and the additives needed. In addition, avoiding additives, high amounts of salt and sugar, as well as flavorings, which are often contained in processed products, is also beneficial for your health. Whole foods make your diet healthy and sustainable.
Of course, you can still eat processed foods such as pasta. But the focus should rather be on on whole foods. However, I personally make sure that I wholemeal pasta as often as possible, as it is less processed and still still contain all the nutrients of the plant. Wholemeal pasta contains unlike white pasta, they still contain all the fiber and therefore fill you up faster. faster.
Tip: season whole foods correctly
My best tip for eating more whole foods: a well-stocked spice cabinet. The taste of your dishes will seem less intense at first, as there are no flavor enhancers, salt, sugar or other flavors in whole foods. To make your food taste really good now, you can season it properly. My spice cupboard is always full and there's always something new. I recently bought the cookbook "vegan Indian cuisine" by Richa Hingle and lots of exotic spices have found their way into my spice cupboard. Incidentally, "vegan Indian cuisine" is not only heavily spiced, but also places great emphasis on whole foods. If you fancy Indian dishes, you can download the Book about vegan Indian cuisine get
I now attach great importance to minimally processed food. Of course, the odd convenience product creeps into my diet from time to time. convenience products, but I make sure that around 80-90 % of my food is minimally processed or not processed at all. In this way I combine two factors that are important to me personally: I keep my healthy and sustainable. At the same time, I don't drive myself crazy crazy if I eat one or two more processed foods than usual. than usual. After all, sustainable nutrition is also about having fun in the long term. should be fun in the long term.
Swap animal products for vegan alternatives
As mentioned above, vegan products are often much more environmentally friendly than the comparable animal product. Dairy products have a particularly large impact on the environment. A particularly simple step is to use plant-based drinks instead of cow's milk. Because you really can replace these foods one-to-one.
Tip: When it comes to plant-based drinks, you'll have to try them out until you find one that you really like. However, I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for among the selection of soy, rice, coconut, almond, oat, cashew, hazelnut, spelt and linseed drinks. Have fun trying them out! If you fancy making your own nut milk, then take a look at my article Make macadamia milk yourself.
Increase the number of veggie days per week
Staying on the subject of vegan nutrition and vegan food: simply increase the number of vegan days in your weekly plan. A vegan diet is a great way to protect both the environment and animals and do something for your health. If you are interested in the connection between diet and climate, I recommend you read my article on Nutrition and climate.
If you're unsure about how to eat a simple vegan diet, then take a look at my post with numerous vegan tips. Tips on a vegan diet over, And if you're wondering where to get your protein on a vegan diet, you've come to the right place in my post aboutvegan protein supply correct.
Get seasonal calendar
As already mentioned above, the seasonal calendar is an absolute must-have for a regional and seasonal diet. With the seasonal calendar, you know exactly which foods are currently ripe and have a short transportation route to your sustainable kitchen.
Start into self-sufficiency
With enough space in your garden or kitchen, you can easily grow your favorite vegetables yourself. If you have a nice sunny spot on the windowsill in the kitchen, you can grow your own kitchen herbs. grow them yourself. Not only do they taste particularly good, they are also always an eye-catcher. an eye-catcher. If your sustainable diet tastes good and looks good too looks good, you have benefited twice over.
Start sustainable nutrition step by step
Even after this brief summary, the many different aspects of sustainable nutrition may still seem overwhelming. That's why it's easiest for you to proceed step by step. So pick one point that particularly appeals to you and that you think is particularly easy to implement for you personally.
It shouldn't matter how big an impact your decision has on the environment. It is much more important that you stay motivated in the long term. The path to a sustainable diet is more like a marathon than a sprint. You simply have to take one step at a time and get to your goal. However, if you go full throttle at the beginning and try everything, you will probably lose motivation and energy along the way and not reach your goal.
For example, you can create a monthly calendar with goals and integrate a new aspect into your sustainable diet every month. sustainable diet each month.
Create monthly calendar with intermediate goals
Here is a very simple example of how you can implement the tips and tricks for sustainable nutrition. You start in January increase the number of vegan days per week, e.g. to two days. days. In February, you buy German winter vegetables such as kale and keep the two vegan days per week from January. In March, try to plastic-reduced shopping, keep the two vegan days per week and take a look at your seasonal calendar. In April, you can then take the next step and so on.
I have put together an exemplary and clear list for you here, which you can use to start making your diet more sustainable. You can easily adapt and change the list as you see fit.
|2 vegan days per week
|Buy seasonal, German winter vegetables
|Plastic reduced shopping
|3 vegan days per week
|Grow your own kitchen herbs
|4 vegan days per week
|no food waste challenge: try not to throw away a single item of food for a month
|Increase organic content
|5 vegan days per week
|regional and seasonal Pumpkin recipes try out
|do not buy any products containing palm oil for one month
|whole foods challenge: try to completely avoid processed products for one month
Other possible ideas are
- increasing the number of vegan days per week to 6 or 7 days
- exotic superfoods with regional superfoods exchange
- Purchase a worm bin to dispose of food waste dispose of food waste ecologically
With this annual plan and the additional tips, you can your kitchen and diet sustainably step by step. step by step.
Don't forget to have fun with sustainable nutrition
What is very important to me personally: always keep it fun fun and don't get too bogged down. Yes, of course environmental protection an important topic, but environmental protection should be fun so that you stay stay motivated in the long term. If you approach the matter too doggedly, you will only lose motivation and give up at some point.
One tip for keeping it fun is to learn that cooking can be fun. That's why you should try new things, be creative and, above all, not get too hung up on following recipes exactly. Simply replace the vegetables you don't like with your favorite vegetables. What could possibly happen? That's why the pot won't explode and the dish won't taste terrible. You'll probably even like it better than the original recipe and you'll only cook it this way in future.
Don't look at things too seriously!
Finally, don't be too hard on yourself: After all, no one is perfect and can boast a 100 % sustainable diet and cuisine. You'll find a bit of plastic everywhere, a few processed products and hardly anyone manages to buy only Fairtrade food. Every step in the right direction is important so that you can finish "the marathon for sustainable nutrition".
Book recommendations for sustainable nutrition
I have already made some book recommendations for sustainable nutrition in the article. That's why you'll find a clear list of the books I can recommend on the subject here.
- Cooking for the climate - the book Christoph and I wrote about environmentally conscious nutrition.
- Plastic-free for beginners - Christoph's book about life without plastic.
- It can also be easy - gardening for self-sufficient gardeners with little time by Otmar Diez.
- Vegan in Top Form - The Cookbook - 200 plant-based recipes for optimal performance and health by Brendan Brazier.
- Vegan in top form: The vegan nutrition guide for top performance in sport and everyday life - The Thrive diet of the famous Canadian triathlete - You can get the book here.
- Vegan Indian cuisine - Traditional and creative recipes to recreate.
These are my book recommendations to make your diet more sustainable. Enjoy reading and finding out more!
Eating sustainably is uncomplicated, isn't it?
Today you have received many helpful tips for an environmentally friendly and sustainable diet. This starts with the production of food and ends with the recycling of leftovers. In combination with sensible shopping habits and waste avoidance, it is easy to create a diet that saves a large part of the environment. Environmental problems of our time to solve.
I hope you enjoy changing your habits. As Hermann Hesse once said: there is magic in every new beginning. You are probably already motivated to the tips of your hair and want to get started - let's go!
If you have any questions or tips of your own, feel free to post a comment.
All the best,
P.S.: In the Blog about healthy eating you will receive numerous other tips from me. For example, learn how you can easily intermittent fasting in your everyday life. If you also want to dress sustainably, you can learn about the Leather sustainability read up.
₁ J. Poore, T. Nemecek. Reducing food's environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science 2018; 360(6392):987-992