Not all food is good for us, animals or the environment. Some foods promote animal-cruelty, habitat destruction and contribute to global warming and animal extinctions. But, it only takes a few small changes to the way we eat and shop, to make a big difference. And, to help you out, we have put together our top 10 tips for ethical eating. We’d love to hear what steps you’re taking to help animals and the environment, let us know in the comments below!
Avoid Palm Oil
Palm oil is in all sorts of products, from food and drinks to cosmetics, household products and fuel. Each day vast areas of the rainforest in Southeast Asia and increasingly Africa are destroyed to make room for palm oil plantations. This destruction of natural habitat is threatening many species, with the orangutan being one of the most impacted – read more about on our blog. Palm oil plants are also a massive contributor to climate change. So much so, that in 2015 greenhouse gas emissions from Indonesia – the world’s largest producer of palm oil – surpassed those of the United States.
Look for Fairtrade Products
Choosing products that are Fairtrade means you are supporting sustainable farming practices and ensuring better working conditions and fairer prices for farmers in developing countries. Everything from bananas, sugar and coffee to flowers, cotton and gold can be classed as Fairtrade, so just keep an eye out for the logo when shopping or have a read through the buying guide on the Fairtrade website.
Buy Free-Range Eggs
Buying eggs is not as simple as choosing the amount you need, there are many types to choose from, and not all are cruelty-free. Caged hens are kept in small cages in overcrowded barns and never given the opportunity to go outside or exercise. Selecting only free-range eggs will ensure you are not supporting such cruel practices, and that the eggs you are eating have come from hens kept in far better conditions. Don’t forget though, many products contain eggs, so check the ingredients carefully if you only want to buy free-range.
We have all seen organic food in the shops, but is it really better? By choosing to purchase organic food you’re avoiding chemical fertilisers and pesticides and supporting higher animal welfare standards. And, with up to 50% more wildlife, organic farms are fantastic for the birds and bees.
Picture credit: HessCreek (Wikimedia Commons)
Shopping locally at farmers markets and grocery stores not only supports local people and businesses, but it also lowers your carbon emissions. Produce that is in season and grown in your area travels far fewer miles to get to you than all of the out-of-season fruit and vegetables we see in our supermarkets. The food will be fresher and less chemical filled too.
Grow your own
If you have a garden, growing your own fruit and vegetables is a great way to become more environmentally friendly, and you’ll get a fantastic sense of satisfaction. It will save you money and reduce your carbon emissions as you’ll be eating food straight from the garden – far fewer food miles.
Eat your leftovers
Waste not, want not. How often do you find yourself throwing away leftover food? Eating all your leftovers will save you money and time – who doesn’t want a night off cooking every now and again? – and help the environment. Research has shown that greenhouse gas emissions from food production and waste breakdown are huge, so the less you throw out, the better it is for out planet.
Convenience food is exactly that, convenient and quick to make. But, fast-food and ready meals are often full of additives, fat, salt and all sorts of ingredients we wouldn’t include if we cooked for ourselves. Buying fresh ingredients and creating meals from scratch is the best way to ensure you are eating healthy. There is also less processing and packaging involved in cooking yourself, which again reduces energy use and materials – plastic is a huge issue nowadays.
Support Meat Free Mondays
If you eat meat, why not try giving it up once a week by going meat-free on a Monday? Meat production has a detrimental impact on the environment. For one thing, it could be responsible for up to 50% of greenhouse gas emissions. Also, meat consumption contributes to health problems such as heart disease and cancer, so giving it up even for just one a day a week could be very healthy and has the potential to save the NHS billions of pounds. Why not ask your workplace or local café to support Meat-Free Mondays as well and really spread the word?
Go Vegetarian or Vegan
If you want to minimise the suffering of animals as a result of your consumption, then go vegetarian or vegan. The meat industry is the biggest killer of animals around the world and is also responsible for the routine suffering of pigs, sheep, cows, chicken, ducks and geese.These days transitioning to a vegetarian diet is easy, there are so many meat-free alternatives out there that are both healthy and cruelty-free. Veganism is getting easier and easier as well, with new product ranges coming out all the time and restaurants are starting to get on board with the trend.