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10 of the Best Sustainable Foods

We all know that a vegan diet is the best diet option for our planet. But you don’t have to necessarily change your whole eating habits to eat more sustainably. You can make some small changes that make big differences to our environment.

We’ve done our research and found BBC Good Food's top 10 most sustainable foods that you can use to replace lesser sustainable items on your plate.

1 - Pulses

There is a huge variety of different pulses you can use in your meals, such as lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans to name a few.

Pulses are great for replacing lesser sustainable foods, you can have a mixed bean chilli or veg curry with chickpeas for example. They also use minimal land space to produce as pulses use 100 times less land when compared to something like lamb, beef or even tofu!

2 - Leafy Greens

Leafy greens can be anything from spinach, kale, watercress, lettuce, and even broccoli!

They are super sustainable! They grow really fast, and have very low carbon emissions. Leafy greens are great editions to any meal and can be used in a multitude of ways. But make sure you do use them, according to BBC Good Food, the UK ‘throws away 178 million bags of salad every year.’

3 - Mushrooms

Because of their hearty taste and slightly chewy texture, mushrooms make an ideal substitute to meat. Why not try mushroom and chickpea burgers, or mushroom bolognese?

Research has found that mushrooms use less water and less energy than most other agricultural crops. They also need just a small amount of land to grow and grow all year round!

4 - Locally grown fruits

We all know that the further the food has to travel, the larger its carbon footprint is. BBC Good Food say that only 7% of the fruits we eat in the UK are grown here!

So what can you do? Well, the best thing to do is to eat fruits that are in season here in the UK! This way, they travel less to get to your plate. Here is a great list of fruits, and veg, in the UK and when they are in season: Fruit and veg in season

5 - Seaweed

Seaweed is growing in popularity – it’s not only great as a side-dish to your Chinese takeaway, but it can be added to dishes like sushi too, and seaweed extracts can be used as a vegan alternative to gelatine.

It’s a super sustainable food as well! Algae, which includes seaweed, produces a whopping 50% of all the oxygen on earth! Plus, it can absorb carbon dioxide, nitrogen and phosphate in the sea! So get experimenting with seaweed dishes today.

6 - Mussels

Whilst we are under the sea, let’s talk about mussels! Mussels (and clams too) are nutrient-dense, and they are super sustainable with experts saying ‘they’re one of the best ways we can feed a growing global population!’

Another great thing about mussels is that they help us clean up the oceans as they feed by filtering the water. By doing this they remove waste particles, such as industrial fertilisers, and carbon dioxide. They also don’t use any land or fresh water to grow. When farmed, the ropes they are grown on also provide a habitat for other sea creatures too! They are a win win!

7 - Cereals and Grains.

We all know that a healthy breakfast is a great way to start the day! But, to make this more sustainable, we need to be looking at what we eat and adding a variety of cereals and grains to our diet. Over-farming one type of grain is not good for the soil or our planet.

Try changing up your breakfast for more varied and sustainable crops such as buckwheat. Try buckwheat pancakes or buckwheat blinis with eggs. Not only will this liven up your kitchen, get you trying new things, but you’ll also looking after your health and the health of the planet too.

8 - Grass-fed Beef

Beef? Really..?

Well, we said you don’t have to make drastic changes to your diet! You can look out for grass-fed beef which is the best option for sustainable meat. Some land isn’t suitable for crops, so if this land is used for cows, and the farm is a regenerative farm, then this is also beneficial to the land. It means the farmer will be growing crops alongside their livestock to improve soil health.

Having cows onsite, means their natural fertiliser reduces or eliminates the use of chemical fertilisers. Also, whilst their hooves walk, dig and churn the land, this helps the soil absorb more carbon. Plus, if you are eating locally sourced food, that helps too! So if you are going to eat red meat, grass-fed beef is the best option.

9 - Oats

Oats are not only for your morning porridge! By drinking oat milk, you are using less water than other plant-based milks like soy or rice milk. Oats are a sustainable food as they can grow without chemical fertilisers. They can also grow between other plant crops and harvests, which helps to replenish the soil.

There are so many oat recipes you can try out, from sweet and savoury snacks, breakfast ideas and event oat-topped pies!

10 - Figs

What can you do with figs? Well, lots actually! Try stuffed figs with parma ham, apple and beetroot. Or roasted figs with aubergines and dates, or sticky fig pudding! There are so many recipes to try. They are a sustainable food as some scientists say ‘planting fig trees can help regenerate deforested landscapes, restoring biodiversity, while the trees are also pretty resilient to climate change.’


So there you have it – 10 sustainable foods to try and add to your diet. You can jazz up your meals and make it a better planet for us all to live in at the same time! Off I go now to cook a mushroom, chickpea and spinach curry!



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