From ugly fruit and veg, to meat-free Mondays, tips for eating sustainably in 2021

According to the United Nations, the world’s population is expected to increase by almost two billion to nearly 10 billion people in 2050, and it will take a focussed and sustainable approach to feed this many mouths. Nutritionist and head trainer at FIAFitnation Sophie Scott shares how easily you can eat more sustainably this year.

The pandemic has certainly shifted priorities when it comes to consumption, whether it’s food, beauty products, or skincare.

While plant-based diets have steadily been increasing in popularity, Sophie Scott, a nutritionist and head trainer at FIAFitnation, says the reality check we got in 2020 would see more of us focus on environmentally-friendly and sustainable food options in the new year.

Here are seven ways to eat more sustainably this year:

Embrace ugly food

Buy odd-shaped food (supermarkets like Harris Farm and Woolworths have embraced this in recent times). This ensures food that would otherwise be wasted is used, and in a bonus, ‘ugly food’ is almost always cheaper.

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Meat-free Mondays

Meat production has a huge environmental impact so try cutting back to one serve of meat per week or make 2021 the year you embrace ‘Meat Free Mondays’. Healthy and easy meat-free dishes include veggie frittata, cauliflower and cheese bake or stir fry tempeh and veggies. Another compromise is going half-half.

For example, when making lasagne, use half mincemeat and half lentils. And why not explore something new this year? Be brave and try adding alternative proteins like cricket flour into your morning smoothie.

Shop seasonally

Buy in-season, certified organic food. It has more antioxidants and uses fewer chemicals. Start with berries and foods you eat the skin of to guarantee fewer pesticides in your diet. The best way to know it’s organic is to look for one of the six certification labels.

Buy genuine free-range eggs

Legislation allows for 10,000 hens per hectare, which essentially lowers the bar, so most eggs on supermarket shelves are labelled as ‘free-range’ even though this contradicts what most consumers understand as free-range (more like 1500 hens per hectare). Choice lists a range of genuinely free-range companies here.

Join a community garden

If everyone grew their own food, they’d know with certainty that no chemical pesticides or fertilisers have been used. It’s better for the earth, better for our body and good for community spirit too.

Buy in bulk

It’s the best way to limit packaging and is often cheaper too. Wholefood stores are great for limiting waste, with the option to use reusable containers and only buy what you need.

Rotate your milks

Buy cow’s milk one week, almond the next, then soy. Alternative milks (or alt milks or mylks) are gaining popularity as more people regularly avoid dairy products for health, animal welfare and environmental reasons.

Just make sure you read the labels of alt milks as many include additives and sugar to create a mouth-feel similar to cow’s milk and several almond milks are mainly water and only 2.5 percent almonds. Unless fortified, alt milks may not contain sufficient calcium to meet the recommended daily intake levels.

Sophie Scott is a nutritionist and head trainer at FIAFitnation, the industry’s leading education provider.