If you want to lead a more eco-friendly life, it’s best to start with your diet. It may or may not surprise you to know that many meat, dairy and grain products aren’t sourced sustainably. Our consumption habits often lead to pollution, deforestation and other issues that concern the planet. How can you alter your diet accordingly?

Here are five ways that you and your family can use to eat a greener diet.

1. Incorporate More Plants

For years, vegetarians and vegans alike have made cases for their preferred diets. Many claims state that plant-based foods create a lesser impact on the planet. It’s become clearer that it may be best to eliminate animal product consumption altogether. While the agriculture industry doesn’t always choose eco-friendly practices, it’s not like you should jump ship immediately.

You should eat a balanced diet with more fruits and vegetables than processed meats and grains. It may still be smart to eat chicken and fish, especially if you have a medical issue that requires added protein. A more plant-based diet can really only help your health and the planet. You can always talk to your doctor before you start a new meal plan.

2. Buy Local Produce

You should always ensure that you buy locally when possible. This effort helps you become more aware of where your food originates. These days, it’s not always possible to see how your food ends up on your plate, especially when you account for how many products are factory-produced. It’s essential to know what you and your family put on the kitchen table every day.

You can search for local farms to buy meat and dairy. There should also be nearby bakeries for when you need to purchase grains. You can also make an effort to identify which businesses source their ingredients locally even if they’re national brands. You should also eat out at smaller restaurants native to your area. These steps can help you enjoy fresher foods that cut down on greenhouse gasses.

3. Try Seasonal Foods

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It’s almost always more sustainable to choose seasonal products. Think about how your location relates to the foods that you eat. Do you experience warmer, tropical weather? You probably have consistent access to fruits like avocados and bananas. Those who live where it’s colder have to buy those foods whenever they’re exported from their native locations.

This process causes unnecessary transportation. Your strawberries that took days and miles to reach your plate contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. You should choose local options whenever possible. These seasonal fruits and vegetables are better for the planet — as well as your wallet and tastebuds. It’s impossible to avoid imported foods, but you can make a difference when you eat seasonally.

4. Pick Grass-Fed Meat

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If you’re not quite ready to give up meat, it’s best to buy grass-fed options. Many meat products contain harmful chemicals and hormones that may impact your health. That’s because several animals eat poor diets as a way to bulk up before slaughter. Cattle should eat more grass than they do hay, as they need the nutrients that grass provides to produce healthy meat.

A grass-fed cut also ensures that the animal wasn’t confined to an indoor space all day long. Instead, they were able to graze an open field as they pleased. Look for Animal Grassfed Association labels whenever you buy your next meat product. These options may be a little more expensive, but it’s always beneficial to pay a bit more when you can make more eco-friendly selections for your family’s health.

5. Choose Reusable Bags

It’s essential to make sustainable choices when it comes to how you transport and store your food. Do your best to take reusable cloth totes with you whenever you shop. This effort helps you avoid single-use plastic bags that exist all throughout our oceans and other waterways. You can even bring your own produce bags for fruits and vegetables. There are many different options to create a plastic-free shopping experience.

At home, it’s also essential to store your food responsibly. Make sure that you have enough reusable containers to fit different leftovers — sauces included. This way, it’ll be easier to eat whatever you have at home. You should also avoid extra utensils and napkins when you order from a nearby restaurant. This step helps to reduce your environmental impact.

These Choices Can Make a Difference

It doesn’t take much effort to make responsible, eco-friendly choices for your family’s diet. With a few tweaks here and there, you can eat foods that benefit you and the planet. Use these tips and tricks the next time that you create a meal plan. They’ll help guide you to make the best decisions possible for a happy and healthy global existence.

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