Eat sustainably and kindly

Last updated 2.6.21

We are what we eat – so how happy are you about that?

In a Climate & Ecological Emergency one of the most important things we can do as an individual is to eat sustainably and kindly – but what that means is controversial and has been polarised into a black and white debate between veganism on the one side and eat what you want /support our farmers on the other.    What is needed is a much more subtle and thoughtful approach than the media likes to portray.  So here are our thoughts on what it means to eat sustainably and kindly.

The National Food Strategy

I would strongly encourage you to read the full National Food Strategy evidence and recommendations found here. You don’t necessarily need to read the full report as the images within it are graphic enough for you to see the impact our current food system is having on the environment.

Eat less and better meat & dairy

Meat is not murder – but industrial meat production is destroying our climate & biodiversity – and it is abhorrently cruel.   To live kindly and sustainably, and more healthily, we all need to eat less meat and dairy – and only eat meat and dairy from animals raised in a way that we are able to witness without flinching.

77% of agricultural land is used to feed farmed animals. While livestock takes up most of the world’s agricultural land it only produces 18% of the world’s calories and 37% of total protein and in an ecological emergency that makes no sense.   A plant-based diet uses less land, less water and less artificial fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, leaving more space for nature.

Check out this great Greenpeace There’s a monster in my kitchen video here

There are more and more great plant-based alternatives to meat on the market and great innovation is happening in producing lab grown meat and insect-based protein.

Don’t forget that we need our pets to eat less meat too.  Thankfully there are now plenty of great insect-based dog and cat foods on the market – and my 3 dogs and cat have given them the paws up!

Aardvark Pet Food. My dogs and cat gave it a 5 star review!

Yora Pet Food

Make meat a treat

There are now about 3 chickens for every human.

Through our over use of land to grow food to feed to animals to feed to us we are leaving too little space for nature and we are causing dangerous climate change and polluting our rivers and seas.

Please eat less meat and dairy.

Treat meat as a treat.

Read more on how meat accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gases from food production in this article and referenced study.

Eat less and better seafood

Our oceans just cannot cope with the ravages of industrialised fishing, bottom trawling, ghost nets and fish farming and Netflix hit SeaSpiracy has just done a fantastic job at igniting debate on this issue.

So called “sustainable fishing” accreditation schemes have lulled people into thinking that fish consumption is not as much of a problem as meat, but that’s just not the case.   Many communities rely on fish for their main food source and in affluent nations we have the choice to eat less fish to protect our marine life and leave fish and sea food to those who depend on it.

Organisations acting include Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace.

Don’t bin it

The UN Food Waste Index 2021 report provides insights into the scale of food waste. The report estimates that food waste from households, retail establishments and the food service industry totals 931 million tonnes each year.

Nearly 570 million tonnes of this waste occurs at the household level. The report also reveals that the global average of 74 kg per capita of food wasted each year is remarkably similar from lower-middle income to high-income countries, suggesting that most countries have room to improve.

In the UK we throw away 6.6 million tonnes of food waste every year, with around 75% of this still being edible when it’s wasted!

Most of us were raised to know that wasting food is wrong – so how did we go so wrong and what can we do to get back some of the values of our parents and grandparents?

We can start with re-trusting the senses we were born with.  When did we start needing someone to tell us when food is unsafe to eat?  You can see, smell and taste if food is off.  Blindly throwing food away based on ‘Best Before’ dates is just daft.

Then there’s the multi-buy offers that lure us into to buying more than we need.  If we buy something for half price that we don’t need, we’re not saving money.

So like your gran said – “Waste not want not.”

My top tip is making soup – pretty much anything can go in it and it’s a great way of clearing out the fridge before your next shop.   Here are 6 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste from our friends at Square Mile farms.

Buy and grow organic if you can

If you can afford to buy organic, please do.

If you can grow organic, please do.

But most of all please support those trying to protect the ability of our soils to grow food in the future.  Without healthy organisms there are no healthy soils and without healthy soils there is no food.

Vital soil organisms are being harmed by pesticides. Analysis published in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Sciences shows that the tiny creatures are the ‘unsung heroes’ that keep soils healthy and underpin all life on land.

Good Club offer a great range of organic food and many are now available Zero Waste in returnable pots with free monthly delivery and packaging collection. A true circular solution.

Riverford offer everything grown, made, and sold 100% organic full of flavour & delivered fresh from their farmers. Their box contents change weekly to reflect the season’s best and all their fruit and veg packaging is home compostable, saving 21 tonnes of plastic a year!

Buy local and in season

We don’t need to eat asparagus and strawberries mid-winter, and one of life’s joys is enjoying the lands bounty when it’s in season.

Food grown locally cuts down on Carbon from transportation and supports local jobs. 

Fresh local produce is likely to have a higher nutrient value and can be higher quality and taste better.

More information on some of the benefits can be found here.

Grow your own

Small local groups like Grounded Community have a big vision to grow veg and train others how to be Community Sufficient, not self-sufficient.

Square Mile Farms offer beautiful, modular ‘plug and play’ systems that can be installed in virtually any space, indoors or outside to grow your own vegetables. Learn more about growing at home, vertical farming and nutrition on their webpage here.

We’re loving the new vertical planters from Square Mile Farms.

Can’t wait to see what they look like with plants more developed!

These great planting systems have been developed to maximise food growing in small urban spaces and make growing your own food compatible with our busy lifestyles.

Each planter contains a reservoir which you can fill with enough water for about 2 weeks.

Made from recycled plastic – once set up they make growing your own really easy and as they can be attached to walls at whatever height you want, they’re a great option to save your back.

Shop refill

Buying food in reusable and returnable containers has a big impact in reducing single use plastic waste.  That not only reduces plastic pollution but also fossil fuel usage – so is important for tackling both the Climate & ecological emergency.

So support your local refill shop, buy food loose at the market, and check out the increasing range of online and doorstep reuse and refill options including:

Eating better alliance

Eating better is an alliance of over 60 member organisations in the UK, from environmental, health, animal welfare development and farming groups. They are calling for a reduction of meat and dairy production and consumption by 50% by 2030 in the UK, and for what is produced and eaten to be higher welfare, and to higher environmental standards.

The Better by Half roadmap sets out a series of 24 actions for government, retailers, caterers, farmers etc to help make this happen. Friends of the Earth supports this target and helped develop the roadmap.