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Smart diet

Food is an important part of sustainable everyday life and celebrations. A good diet can at the same time be environmentally friendly, tasty, healthy, affordable, and varied. Whether you're a vegetarian, vegan or omnivore, there are plenty of options for more sustainable eating.
An old man, a little girl and an older woman sitting at a table.
© Adobe Stock

The sustainability of a diet can be assessed using a variety of indicators, such as greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient loads on water bodies, water use, land use, energy use, amount of waste, impacts on biodiversity, environmental impact of transport, packaging, degree of domestic origin, naturalness, animal rights, working conditions of the food producers and so on.

Often, your own situation in life and values affect which perspective becomes important and guides your choices. Someone might focus on climatic effects, another person on the impact of food production on the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea, while a third person may have biodiversity in mind.

Bits and pieces of a sustainable diet

Know what you eat.
Reduce meat consumption, especially red meat.

Meat puts more strain on both the climate and water systems than plant-based foods.

Reduce consumption of dairy products.

Dairy products put more strain on both the climate and water systems than plant-based products.

Eat only sustainably produced fish.

Favour domestic wild fish, small fishes, and eco-labelled fish products.

Choose your plant proteins wisely.

Favour domestic plant proteins, such as broad beans or oat products.

Do not forget the importance of vegetables, berries and fruit.

Favour domestic products that are in season.

Reduce food waste and recycle biowaste.

Sorted biowaste is a valuable resource, as it can be used to produce fertilisers, soil conditioners and biogas, among other things.

Favour organic food.

Organic food is a way of producing food with stricter criteria for both environmental protection and animal welfare.  

When individuals make more sustainable food choices in groups, food production begins to change with the changes in demand. This can already be seen in corner shops in the dramatic increase in the amount of plant protein products. However, it is not worth losing one’s sleep over food. If even a few of the above are realised in your everyday life, you are already on your way to a more sustainable diet. 

This is also a societal issue: for example, what kind of diets are highlighted in public dining and how agricultural subsidies are distributed. It is therefore important to consider what could be done to promote the sustainability of food more widely in society. You can find ways to do this, for example, in the Influencing section of this website.

Calculate the carbon footprint of your dietary choices
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Find out the impact of your consumption habits on the Baltic Sea with the Baltic Sea calculator
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Finnish Environment Institute (Syke)