Sustainable nutrition: how do you apply it in practice?

Sustainable food. It may well be that you have come into contact with this term in recent years. Sustainability is a broad concept that considers the well-being of humans, animals and the environment. In this article, the focus will be on the environmental impact of food, and how you can contribute to a better environment. What does sustainable food look like in practice?

How do we determine what sustainable food is?

From the Flemish Institute for Healthy Living a document has been published on nutrition and sustainability. This document provides guidelines for  sustainable food where attention is paid to various topics that have an impact on the environment. The differences in food sustainability can be measured on the basis of, among other things, water use, greenhouse gas emissions and land use.

Find an appropriate protein balance in your diet

If we look realistically at the three aforementioned aspects of sustainable food , animal proteins almost always have a greater impact on the environment. To name one thing, 40% of arable land worldwide is used to produce animal feed, which has a huge impact on land use. Of course it is good to realize that there are also differences between different animals, for example a chicken has much less impact on water, land use and greenhouse gases than a cow.

Plant proteins generally score lower on environmental impact, but they are not all equally perfect. Nuts, for example, have a major impact on water use. For a lower environmental impact, it can be good to get more protein from plant-based foods. The protein intake of the average Dutch person is 60% animal and 40% vegetable. A vegan diet may be 10 bridges too far for you, but it can have a lot of effect if you can shift the balance from animal to vegetable or by choosing poultry like chicken over red meat more often.

Prevent food loss as much as possible

Many will recognize it: walking into the supermarket with a feeling of hunger, only to have way too much dinner left. Overeating will not do your health any good, but throwing that extra food away is bad for the environment. This is because products are lost that someone else could have eaten. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to prevent food loss.

First, no matter how great your hunger pangs are, consider carefully which portion sizes of which product you need. Also take a quick look at the packaging of each product: how long does it actually last? Do I have to eat it within two days, or can I wait a week? And indeed, packaging also contributes to the environmental impact, but in net terms this is less than food loss itself. Finally, make sure you have enough Tupperware at home. Then put those extra portions away in the fridge or freezer. But don’t forget this one, make a note of it. For example, on the fridge.

Limit highly processed products

It is estimated that processed food consumption is responsible for one third of the total environmental impact of food consumption. Processed food includes processed meat, frozen pizzas, candy, cookies, pastries and chips. The environmental impact of these products is so high, because the production process is longer, which logically also costs more energy.

The environmental impact is also greater due to high water consumption. This is higher due to food hygiene, cleaning of machines and the use of ingredients that require a lot of water, such as palm oil. Palm oil and sugar commonly used in processed foods are absolutely not absoluutsustainable foods. Palm oil is one of the causes of the deforestation of the tropical rainforest. The sugar that is added to processed products comes for 80% from sugar cane from tropical regions, where a lot of water is needed for irrigation.

Which protein balance is right for you?

Sustainable food has a positive effect on the environment, which is based on a lot of scientific research. At Omniyou we also apply science in a positive and meaningful way, for you! With our Nutrigenomics report, you will find out your perfect protein balance, so that you can eat in a more targeted and effective way. Also useful to prevent food loss!