Well-being at the table, for us and for the environment: tips for a healthy and sustainable diet

A healthy and balanced diet is not only good for our health, it also allows us to significantly reduce our impact on the environment.

The food we put on our plates every day has an effect not only on our own health but on that of the planet as well. Food production is the human activity that contributes the most to greenhouse gas emissions (up to 37%), more than the heating of buildings (23.6%) and transport (18.5%). Not all foods, however, have the same impact on the environment. For example, producing 1 kg of beef involves the emission of 25.8 kg of CO2, which is equivalent to driving a car for 211 km.  The impact of fruit is around 0.4 kg of CO2 per kg, the equivalent of traveling 3.3 km by car. Therefore, we can all make a difference, both for ourselves and the environment, through the food we choose to eat every day.

5 tips for a healthy and sustainable diet
Eating healthily and sustainably means, first of all, not giving up on flavor.

It also means varying our diet as much as possible by favoring dishes based on vegetables, fruit, pulses and whole grains, not overdoing portion sizes (to avoid waste), salt, sugar and fats, moderating our consumption of meat (especially red and processed meat, such as cured meats) and dairy products, always preferring local and seasonal products that are not ultra-processed.

Here are 5 practical tips for bringing a tasty, healthy and environmentally friendly diet to the table every day.

1. We can make positive changes by favouring plant-based foods over animal-based foods. Eating a diet full of a range of fruit and veg, whole grains, nuts and legumes is a great way to ensure you’re eating in a healthy and climate-friendly way.

2. Eat red meat only as a treat. It can be lovely to indulge in beef, lamb, pork and processed meat, but they have a large impact on our health and on the earth if we eat too much. Industrial scale production of red meat causes great harm to the environment, impacting exponentially on the emission of greenhouse gases. Aim for no more than one portion a week.

3. Eat protein from plants. Proteins are essential for our well-being and it is important to include adequate amounts of them in our diet. It is better however to opt for plant-based ones. There are lots of great sources of protein from plants that you probably already eat! Beans, lentils, peas, legumes like chickpeas are versatile and sustainable. They also have the added benefits of being high in fiber and nutrients, low in fat, salt and sugar, versatile in the kitchen and environmentally-friendly.

4. Eat a variety of foods. Plan your weekly menu always bearing in mind that a healthy diet is a balanced and varied one. Among animal-based food, poultry and fish are rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals while having a lower impact on the Planet than red meat, meaning you can eat them up to three times a week and still be doing your bit for the environment. You should aim to eat eggs and cheese up to twice a week, accompanied by a portion of vegetables.

5. Use creativity to make your food tasty. Indulge yourself with herbs and spices. Boost your soup and salads with seeds, nuts and dried fruit and eat seasonal fruit as snack. In addition to being tasty, they are rich in minerals, fibers, vitamins and proteins, providing a great energy reserve! Use vegetable oil for cooking and open your eyes when shopping for food - discover local food and seasonal varieties and use them in many inviting recipes.

The SU-EATABLE LIFE sustainable cookbook
Good for our taste, our health and the environment. These are the distinguish features of the dishes presented in the sustainable cookbook developed by the Su-Eatable Life team of chefs and experts. More than 200 recipes, divided by season, which describe the environmental impact of the dish (carbon footprint and water footprint), along with tips and tricks to make your preparations tasty, balanced and respectful of the environment.  Be inspired and try them all!

How should you read the environmental impact information included in the recipes? And how to combine them correctly to create tasty and sustainable menus every day?

Our advice is to keep within 1000 grams of CO2 equivalence (carbon footprint) and 1000 litres of virtual water (water footprint). Remember that animal protein (meat, cheese, fish and eggs) have a greater impact than grains, beans, pulses and vegetables. Vegetable sides generally have a low environmental impact, equivalent to around 100 grams of CO2, including dressing.