In honour of 2018’s Meat Free Week (September 24-30) We asked leading naturopath and blogger, Gemma Davis, co-author of The Compassionate Kitchen, for her top tips on eating sustainably.

  1. Reduce Meat Consumption – or even better – go completely plant-based

Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions – more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. It is also the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction – including rainforest destruction. The amount of freshwater and land needed to grow feed for the 70 billion animals we raise for meat, is simply not sustainable.  We could feed a lot more people on plants with far less resources. Did you know that a person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50 percent less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th, land compared to someone who eats meat? Eating plant-based is one of the most affective changes you can make to live more sustainably.  

  1. Shop Locally

It takes a lot of fuel and refrigeration to transport food across states and countries, which is carbon-intensive. If you eat locally you can eliminate or significantly reduce this, because your food has less distance to travel, thereby using less fuel, and it will be fresher. When shopping at the supermarkets, choose the apple from your country, rather than the other-side of the world, and do this with as many of the foods you can. You can also shop locally by purchasing your food from farmers’ markets, where you can connect with your local farmers, learn about what is in season and support them directly.

  1. Reduce Your Food Waste

It is estimated that 1.3 billion tonnes (roughly 1/3) of food produced for humans gets thrown away and wasted every year. It requires many resources to grow and transport this food so when it is wasted, we are majorly squandering water, land and energy. It is estimated that eight percent of greenhouse gases are caused by food waste. We can reduce our food wastage by planning meals, shopping smartly and buying only what you need. Get creative with preparing leftovers and by using the food that ends up at the bottom of the fridge. A huge amount of the waste also happens before the vegetables and fruit even gets to the shelves because of our want for the “perfect” looking food. Australian primary producers are forced to dump up to 60 percent of the nation’s annual fresh fruit and vegetable crop simply because it doesn’t look perfect enough. We can combat this by supporting supermarkets initiatives of selling “wonky fruit” or the “imperfect” vegetables and demonstrate our desire to waste less.

  1. Eat More Organic or Pesticide-Free

Organic food is free of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides that are all used in conventional methods of farming. These chemicals are sprayed onto crops to kill organisms, such as insects and fungi but the problem is that these poisons don’t just affect the targeted ‘pests’. They run off into waterways, pollute the air and change the structure of the soil. Pesticides also are detrimental to biodiversity and affect wildlife either directly or indirectly through food and water contamination – they mess with delicately balanced ecosystems the environment needs. Lessen the resulting impact by reducing foods grown with pesticides and chemicals and purchase organic where possible. To become certified organic costs money, so sometimes smaller farms still work sustainably without pesticides without getting certified – which is another benefit of the farmers market -so you can find them! The good news there though, is that most certifying bodies now have a scale of certification, which is based on the annual turnover of the company. The smaller the turnover, the fewer fees they pay to become certified.

  1. Plant your own Veggies and Herbs

There is nothing quite like harvesting your own herbs and vegetables and creating a magnificent meal from them. If you don’t have a big backyard, or if you live in an apartment, visit your local garden centre to check out the vertical veggie garden kits they offer. Even picking fresh herbs from your windowsill helps the cause!

About the Author

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After 30 years of working in Australian media, Shonagh is one of Australia’s busiest and most in-demand beauty, health, travel and lifestyle writers.

As a health and lifestyle journalist and consultant, Shonagh has worked closely with international wellness experts and icons, including Dr. Sandra Cabot, Therese Kerr and Miranda Kerr.

In other aspects of her work, she has travelled the world reviewing wellness retreats and luxe holiday destinations, and she has interviewed and written feature articles on some of the world’s best love celebrities, including Sting, Elle McPherson, Pamela Anderson, Simon Baker, Kylie Minogue, Gwen Stefani, Tina Arena, Heather Graham and many more.

She currently lives in the NSW Southern Highlands with her four dogs (three Siberian Huskies and one Maltese Cross), where she grows her own veggies and advocates ending Factory Farming and animal cruelty.

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