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5 easy, healthy food swaps that help the planet

Written In Partnership With: ZENB.


Sourcing foods which are the healthier option can be hard enough, but when we throw in making choices about the health of the planet as well it can seem like an even more complex puzzle to try and solve.


You may not think that small changes to your everyday diet will make a difference, but think again. Choosing more sustainable foods and incorporating them into your daily diet is actually a really simple way to transition to eating in a way that is kind to both your body and the planet.


Here are some ideas to help you on your way to adopting a more sustainable lifestyle through what you consume:

1. Eat yellow pea pasta instead of wheat pasta


No matter the shape or size, it’s no secret that all kinds of pasta taste delicious. But, have you ever considered the environmental impact that wheat pasta has on the planet?


Research conducted in 2020 (1), shows that traditional pasta – made from wheat – very much falls into our modern food system characterised by unsustainable agricultural practices that use environmentally damaging nitrogen fertilisers and over-consumption of nutrient-poor foods that contribute to non-communicable disease and malnutrition.


Instead, yellow pea pasta negates many of the issues that are brought about by producing wheat. Not only does yellow pea pasta require less water to grow than wheat (2), creating a greener choice for the planet, but it also increases soil microbial diversity and heralds health benefits such as being higher in protein, fibre and potassium.


Made from 100% yellow peas, ZENB pasta is a brand offering an exciting new twist on a much-loved kitchen staple. Easy to cook and full of nutrients, ZENB pasta is a tasty alternative you need to try with all your favourite pasta dishes.




2. Start using extra virgin olive oil


With almost every recipe starting with ‘add a splash of oil to a pan’, it’s highly likely that you’ve got one or two cooking oils in your kitchen cupboard. But not all of these cooking oils are made equal. Different types of oils have different effects on the environment and on your body, so choosing which one to use can be difficult.

Out of all the oils available, the most destructive is palm oil - this should be avoided at all costs. Not only is it responsible for the destruction of the world’s rainforests but for driving orangutans to the brink of extinction.


We would recommend using extra virgin olive oil that’s organic and fair trade for cooking. One key advantage of extra virgin olive oil when compared to other mainstream cooking oils is the olive tree’s ability to act as a carbon sink. This means that olive trees trap more carbon from the atmosphere than they release (4).

3. Switch cow’s milk to plant-based milk


One of the simplest, planet-friendly swaps you can make is switching cow’s milk to plant-based milk. There is currently a plethora of plant-based milk on our supermarket shelves and at our local coffee shops for you to choose from.

When looking at which plant-based milk is best for the environment, there is no ‘best in all categories’ choice, so it really does depend on what measure you care most about (i.e. land use, water use, greenhouse gas emissions etc). But, it’s important to understand that any plant-based milk that you do decide to use - we’d recommend almond milk, oat milk or soya milk - has a much lighter environmental impact than dairy.

4. Swap meat for plant-based alternatives


Raising livestock generates ~14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (3), the second highest source of emissions behind fossil fuels and greater than all transportation combined. It also uses about 70% of agricultural land and is one of the leading causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and water pollution.

Reducing your consumption of meat is one of the most effective ways to reduce your environmental impact on the planet. By just switching out some of your meat products for plant-based alternatives such as tofu, tempeh, pulses and faux meat, you can help tackle the climate crisis one bite at a time.

5. Swap cheese for plant-based cheese


This is a hard one, we know! But you'd be surprised how unsustainable cheese production is. Cheese has a high carbon footprint with 1 pound of cheese requiring more than 10 pounds of milk! This means it generates the third highest greenhouse gas emissions from food, right after beef and lamb.

As it turns out, plant-based cheese is a great alternative to cheese produced from dairy. It’s always been one of the most difficult substitutes to match up to the real deal, yet there have been incredible strides in recent months made in its taste and texture of it.


And in terms of health, plant-based cheese is also a great alternative for cutting back on saturated fat and calories found in dairy cheese. It’s definitely worth a try! About ZENB

ZENB (pronounced ZEN-bee) is an online plant-based food brand on a mission to make delicious plant-forward products accessible and convenient. Their proprietary food development process harnesses the goodness of nature, using as much of the whole plant as possible…skin, seeds, stem, and all.


ZENB creates award-winning pasta made from 100% yellow peas that’s gluten-free, and high in protein and fibre. Available in 4 shapes, with a fabulous al dente texture, you can pair it with ZENB Gourmet Sauces, which make one of your 5-a-day per serving. Or switch up lunchtime with their NEW Agile Bowls, all you need to do is just add boiling water and enjoy!



References

  1. Saget, S. et al 2020. Substituting wheat with chickpea flour in pasta production delivers more nutrition at a lower environmental cost

  2. S.V. Angadi et al (2008) Adaptation of alternative pulse and oilseed crops to the semi-arid canadian prairie: seed yield and water use efficiency.

  3. Gerber, P. J., H. Steinfeld, B. Henderson, A. Mottet, C. Opio, J. Dijkman, A. Falcucci and G. Tempio. 2013. Tackling climate change through livestock - a global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome. 115 pp.

  4. Fernández-Lobato, R. García-Ruiz, F. Jurado, D. Vera. Life cycle assessment, C footprint and carbon balance of virgin olive oils production from traditional and intensive olive groves in southern Spain. J Environ. Manage. 2021 Sept; 293: 112951. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112951


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