The European Meal Plan You Should Try

Six simple ideas can help you make healthy food choices for you and the environment.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

What you eat makes a difference not just for your health, but the health of the planet. This idea is central to Livewell 2020: a diet proposed by the World Wildlife Fund to help reduce greenhouse emissions and support Europe’s climate-change targets. Although this plan hasn’t made waves stateside, we in America could learn a thing or two from these six principles and help make ourselves — and our planet — healthier:

  1. Eat more plants: That means vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. Producing plant foods tends to create fewer carbon emissions than meat.
  1. Eat a variety of foods: It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, but keeping a diversified plate is good for you. When it comes to plant foods, eat a variety of colors and eat with the seasons.
  1. Waste less food: Plan for leftovers and don’t overbuy perishable foods. As the WWF points out, one-third of food is lost or wasted.
  1. Moderate your meat consumption, both red and white: Animal proteins can have their place in a healthy diet, but they have a higher carbon impact. One way to eat less meat and poultry is to add other types of proteins to your meals: Beans, nuts and peas are all good plant proteins.
  1. Buy food that meets a credible certified standard: There are a number of standards out there, from fair trade to certified humane. Buying food that’s been monitored and certified by a third-party organization can help you make better choices.
  1. Eat fewer foods high in fat, salt and sugar: This one’s a no-brainer for your health. There’s increasing evidence to show that eating too many sweets, fried foods and cured meats is bad for us. And these foods are frequently ones that have been more heavily processed — meaning they’ve had a longer time in the supply chain (not exactly the most eco-friendly situation).

Kerri-Ann is a registered dietitian who writes on food and health trends. Find more of her work at or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.

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