A shocking new study published yesterday in the journal The Lancet suggests that most of what we put in our bodies is actually terrible — not only for us, but for our environment. The study outlines what a true healthy and environmentally-conscious diet might actually look like, and for some people, this will require a major adjustment.
TL;DR The results of two new reports on food and diet show us that Canadians are not only eating poorly, but are also contributing to massive food waste. Based on the results of these studies, here are some actionable suggestions on how you can eat better while minimizing food waste and staying environmentally conscious.
This three year study involving a wide variety of authorities from different fields has resulted in a very simple conclusion, a mantra that has been repeated time and time again since childhood:
Eat mostly veggies. It's that simple. A plant-based diet is by far the most responsible choice.
"Plants" extend outside the leafy green category to include protein from lentils, chickpeas, soy, and other hearty legumes.
A plant-based diet is beneficial not only to your individual health, but also the environment. Meat production is a resource-intense industry and, in many cases, requires deforestation to create pastures. Cows also produce greenhouse gases.
According to Global News and an associate professor of applied nutrition at the University of Guelph, this is plant-based diet is far from what the average Canadian eats on a daily basis. Canadians, in particular, will have to greatly reduce their red meat and dairy consumption. Read about the new Canadian Food Guide for more information about what should constitute a healthy diet.
On Food Waste
On the topic of diet and eating, another shocking report by Second Harvest shows that Canadians are only eating all wrong, they are wasting copious amounts of food.
The final results of the report show that over half (58%) of the food produced in Canada is lost each year. That's a mind-boggling 35.5 million tonnes of food wasted.
When you convert those figures in to a dollar value, the numbers become even more astounding.
In Canada $49 billion dollars worth of food is wasted every year. That money could pay for a 5 month supply of food for every single person in Canada.
The reality remains, food waste — individual and commercial — is a huge issue in Canada, and it has profound implications for our environment. Food waste produces greenhouse gases that harm the planet.
The study identified a few underlying causes for this extreme food waste at the consumer level, including the purchase of sale items in bulk and the disposal of food before it actually goes bad.
Identifying the root causes of food waste can be translated into actionable suggestions to help minimize food waste and help Canadians consume smarter:
- Plan meals ahead and buy only for those planned meals.
- Avoid buying groceries just because they are on sale. Only buy what you really need.
- Buy groceries that fit your lifestyle. For example, if you eat most meals outside your home, buy groceries in smaller quantities when you know they will be used within the same day or two, or buy frozen veggies instead of fresh.
- Get informed about the truth behind "best before" dates. Most foods can still be consumed past their expiration dates.