Small Yet Powerful Dietary Changes Worth Making in 2023

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Written by Jennifer Will

Three out of four consumers report that they want to do more to reach their sustainability goals at home, including reducing water and energy consumption, recycling products, and generating renewable energy at home, according to one report. While recycling and efforts like starting your own vegetable garden are great places to start in leading a more eco-conscious lifestyle, there are a multitude of other small yet powerful changes that one can make as well. From the value in taking small steps to a more plant-focused diet to the impact that even the smallest everyday decisions can have, here’s how you can become more eco-friendly at home.

A simple alternative to veganism

According to Taste Made, the one single factor in our diets that contributes the most to our carbon footprint is meat, due largely to the fact that animals require more resources (like water, grain, etc.) than plant-based foods do. While many have made the impactful decision to become a vegan or vegetarian, you don’t necessarily have to make such a commitment in order to contribute positively to the environment through your diet. In fact, making a small change — like incorporating a “Meatless Monday” into your schedule can be a powerful place to start. In fact, eating plant-based just once a week can allow for major benefits — from saving an impressive 133 gallons of water with each meatless meal to reducing your carbon footprint by eight pounds with each Meatless Monday you participate in, notes one University of Colorado Boulder post

For those who are hesitant to become a vegan though aren’t avid meat-eaters, finding your groove in becoming a flexitarian can be a great middle ground. The Mayo Clinic describes the term ‘flexitarian’ as someone who eats mostly plant-based foods, though occasionally eats meat, poultry, and fish as well. To further elevate your impact through such a diet, The Mayo Clinic advises that when your meals do include meat, don’t overeat, going on to recommend choosing lean cuts and avoiding oversized positions.

Diversifying your garden

When seeking to make small yet powerful eco-friendly changes right from home, elevating your garden by expanding what you plant and how can further your eco-friendly efforts. While many are quick to enjoy the benefits that come from a small vegetable garden, looking into other options for home-grown foods — such as container herb gardening or growing fruits are both options that can be done indoors. While this presents the ideal solution for those who don’t have a yard, it can expand your diet while also making for an enjoyable hobby. 

Better Homes & Gardens points out that fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and passion fruits can all be grown indoors in containers, though it’s important to note that these plants generally need more effort and care than typical houseplants. For example, as your fruit plants grow, you’ll likely need to prune the roots, as without space, the dense root ball will become harder to water (and can cause delayed fruit production). Carefully transitioning your fruit plants/trees from outside to inside (should you bring them indoors  during the winter), will also need to be done with care in order to properly acclimate them. In addition to reducing stress and anxiety levels and boosting productivity, having a fruit tree indoors will bring life into your home with a bright pop of color, while matching the container to your surrounding home decor will further allow for visual harmony.

The value in sustainable choices

When looking to become more eco-friendly at home, making small, everyday choices can have a lasting impact while also cultivating habits that put the environment at the forefront of your lifestyle. Food waste is just one major issue — in fact, between 30 and 40 percent of food in the U.S. is thrown out or wasted each year, according to the department of Agriculture. The Mayo Clinic Health System breaks down a variety of ways that you can address the issue and make an impact right from your own kitchen — for example, overbuying can be prevented by simply taking an inventory of your fridge/freezer/pantry before shopping, while meal plans, saving and eating leftovers, and storing food appropriately can all work to efficiently minimize food waste.

It’s necessary to realize that even the smallest of decisions — such as making responsible choices regarding the food you buy — can have a significant impact. In regard to seafood, knowing where your seafood is coming from and diversifying your choices, will help reduce pressure on the more popular species. WWF notes that this is important, as “even the best managed sources cannot satisfy unlimited increase in demand as this pressure affects the whole marine ecosystem.” Additional tips from WWF include choosing climate-friendly seafood (as some fishing/farming methods can offer lower carbon emission sources of animal protein), buying local, and avoiding vulnerable fish.

Implementing eco-friendly habits can feel like a major challenge, though it’s important to take into account that even the smallest of steps can make a massive difference. By introducing habits like cutting down on meat consumption, expanding your garden, and making sustainable decisions, you can easily become more eco-friendly at home in more ways than one.

Photo credit: Tijana Drndarski

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