Eating a plant-based diet can be a great way to live more sustainably. Plants require less water and space then many other foods so eating this way can greatly reduce water intake. The average person who eats a plant-based diet can save more than 150,000 gallons of water per year. One beef burger can use up to 2,400 litres to produce.

Twenty servings of vegetables has fewer greenhouse gas emissions than one serving of beef. There is no doubt that plant-based foods use less natural resources such as land, water and energy compared to animal-based products.

However, you need to keep a watchful eye on ingredients and look out for products that have travelled too far or ingredients such as unsustainable palm oil, which is often included in vegan products, particularly spreads.

Is organic worth it?

Organic farming minimises erosion of agricultural biodiversity and supports species that play an important role in agricultural ecosystems. Without the use of chemical pesticides, pollinators and pest predators can thrive. I believe the organic option is worth it, whenever available. Certainly, some foods are fed and absorb more pesticides than others, these are referred to as the dirty dozen. This list does change every year, but here are the foods to watch out for and to always opt for the organic option:

Spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, celery, apples, strawberries, nectarines, peaches, grapes, pears, cherries.

Local foods

Sourcing foods from your local area as much as you can will greatly reduce your carbon footprint. You can support local producers and your community. When that’s not possible then choose sustainably sourced products such as soya grown in Europe, rather than far-away countries such as Brazil, which is currently pursuing a devastating deforestation policy; most of this soya is fed to animals.

Eating seasonally

Food that has spent less time travelling not only tastes much better but offers greater health benefits too. It is always best to shop seasonally as much as possible and look at where the product has come from to avoid excessive air miles.

Your food choices

All local, organic and seasonal food is the best way forward. Legumes such as peas, beans, lentils are not only important sources of plant protein but they help to reduce nitrogen from the atmosphere converting it into ammonia which feeds other plants and organisms. This reduces the need for fossil fuel-based fertilisers which saves CO2 emissions. Tomatoes, apples and figs in particular are also sustainable crops. It is great to see British companies like Hogmedods championing the domestic production of crops, such as quinoa, that were previously only available as imports. It is especially exciting that the company is now cultivating chickpeas for the production of our much-loved hummus.

The global food system is dominated by industrial and often intensive animal agriculture which is perpetuating our environmental crisis and compromising animal welfare. Reducing or better still eliminating meat and embracing the wonderful array of seasonal and local produce it seems benefits everyone.