One way of making your diet more sustainable: Grow your own vegetables. Photo: Max Pixel (Public Domain),
One way of making your diet more sustainable: Grow your own vegetables.

Are you aware of what you’re eating? Are you (part-time) vegetarian, vegan, raw, paleo? I can tell about myself, that I care about what I eat most of the times (my care exponentially decreases with wine or beer consumption). I feel to be – because of my studies and my PhD but also due to having “really diagnosed” coeliac disease – uncomfortably aware of many impacts that nutrition in Germany has on sustainability issues. (There is a more scientific way of thinking about sustainable diets but below this article you may as well find more easy-to-read information.) [1], [2]

Food is an essential issue of sustainability and an essential part of everyday life as well.

Naturally, it therefore almost had to become THE trend topic. What else, if not a picture of a vegan-raw-regional and yummy bowl of something could express your healthy, trendy, conscious, open-to-the-world lifestyle? Many websites show us the “10 easy ways” or “5 tips” to eat more healthy and sustainably.

Food is culture and traditions.

Nevertheless, we should not forget that food and food culture has a long tradition and takes place in complex social context [3]. A good example for this is a study about doggy bags. Research reveals that restaurant guests on the one hand morally support doggy bags as means not to waste food. On the other hand, they feel shame and regret when actually asking for a doggy bag in a restaurant thereby putting emphasis on the fact of not finishing their food [4]. This is not to say that you cannot change food practices. However, those changes take their time for every person and for society as a whole.

Is food your starting point for a sustainable lifestyle?

If you feel that food is the thing you can and want to change in your lifestyle, do so by eating less meat, processed foods or whatever it is you care about (my personal opinion is, that you cannot do wrong by thinking about following the simple rules for healthy eating by Aaron Carroll [4]). However, don’t forget all the other things that have an impact on sustainability. And don’t judge people on their unsustainable diets alone. Maybe they do other things that make their lifestyle as sustainable as yours. 

More information about sustainable diets

[1] Foley, J. A., Ramankutty, N., Brauman, K. A., Cassidy, E. S., Gerber, J. S., Johnston, M., … & Balzer, C. (2011). Solutions for a cultivated planet. Nature, 478(7369), 337-342.
[2] FAO (2014): Building a common vision for sustainable food and agriculture. (Retrieved 12/21/ 2016:
[3] Counihan, C., & Van Esterik, P. (2012). Food and culture: A reader. Routledge.
Bildquelle: Source: Sweet Shop Recs (2016): Tips to start a Food Blog. (Retrieved 12/21/2016:
Image: One way of making your diet more sustainable: Grow your own vegetables.
Source: Max Pixel (Public Domain).

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