Eat and prepare plant-based meals at home
Eating plant-based diets is literally the best thing we can do to lower our impact on the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports that livestock production is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions—more than any other sector including transport!
Our busy lifestyles have allowed us to take a fast food approach to eating and it’s having major impacts on our personal health and the environment. Billions of takeout containers are used once then transported to landfills where most will never decompose. What’s more, North American diets contain too much processed food high in fat, sugar and sodium and way more meat than is recommended. Preparing meals at home gives us control over the ingredients and makes it easy to pack leftovers in reusable containers!
The Big Picture: Flaws in the Food System
It wasn’t that long ago that preparing fresh, nutritious food and eating it slowly in your home was the norm for families in Canada. Today, many issues plague the food system: climate change, genetic modification, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, farming support, peak oil, agricultural corporate monopolies, threatened pollinators, control and ownership of seeds and soil erosion to name a few. What’s more, most of what we’re eating today is not actually food but processed food-like substances.
Micheal Pollan, writer of In Defense of Food says we need to eat more food (read: more plants) and points out that we cannot be divorced from the health of the food chains of which we are part. Canadian Organic Growers argues we need a personal food strategy built on these five key actions:
- Grow your own food
- Buy certified organic from local farmers
- Preserve what is in season
- Request local organic food where you shop or dine
- Learn about fair trade organic food.
Sourcing local and organic food addresses the key problems facing our food system.
Take It Up yourself
- Read a book or a few articles about healthy eating
- Consult health and wellness professionals, like a naturopath to talk about your diet
- Counteract the fast food habit, by planning meals in advance and keeping a food journal
- Buy in season local and organic food at the grocery store
- Take a canning workshop to learn how to preserve your favorite in-season foods
- Avoid buying food on-the-go or ordering take-out, but if you do, bring your own reusable containers
- Add plant-based meat alternatives to a few of your favorite recipes
- Choose only organic grass-fed meats, sustainable seafood options and lean meats (fish, poultry) as much as possible.
Take It Up with a group
- As a group, read a book or screen a film that is critical of the food system to understand the issues more in depth. Make time to discuss the ideas afterwards and what you are going to do in response
- Organize a “lunch and learn” in invite a naturopath, green dietician, organic farmer, food system enthusiast to speak to your group
- Host a local, organic potluck in the workplace
- Plan a group lunch or dinner at a restaurant that offers wholesome vegetarian and vegan options
- In the workplace, develop a points system that rewards group members for bringing their own breakfast or lunch every day. Those who buy their lunch on the go will not be eligible for incentives
- Order catering from an establishment that practices sustainable purchasing and cooking.