Why Sustainable Is Better for You and the Environment

Let’s learn some simple sustainability swaps and steps to protect our health and planet.

Whole grains are key to sustainability
Woman in wheat field

It’s a scary realization that if we don’t change now, we won’t have a balanced environment and resources for our future generations. It can feel a bit overwhelming, but we’ll help you find easy ways to make a significant change. So let’s learn some simple sustainability swaps and steps to protect our health and planet.

What is sustainability? 

Sustainability is based on three fundamental pillars: people, planet, and profit. It refers to how our current practices and systems will influence our world in the future. The goal is to ensure our world and resources meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations (1). We, as people, influence the planet. 

Carbon footprint

Another term that walks alongside sustainability is “carbon footprint.” Carbon is a gas that’s the basis of life, yet it’s one of the greenhouse gases which absorbs radiation and prevents heat from escaping our atmosphere. When there’s too much of it, our global temperatures get higher, and thus, climate change occurs (2).

Meaty impact 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, livestock contributes to 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Out of that total impact, cattle (both for meat and milk) contribute about 65% of those emissions (3)!

Many animals are raised just for us to eat, but much of it gets wasted. About 60% of animals on the planet are raised for us to eat, and 30-40% of total food gets wasted (4). An environmental research group, called the World Resource Institute, recommends that wealthy nations reduce animal consumption by 40% to meet global emissions goals for 2050 (5). 

Why pick plant-based?

Meat has its perks in moderation. It’s high in protein and amino acids, the protein building blocks that help maintain our body structure and keep our immune system healthy. Plus, red meat contains the mineral iron, which helps carry oxygen around our bodies (6).

Too much meat can be harmful to both our health and the environment. One study showed that people who ate red or processed meat more than four times per week had a 20% higher risk of colon cancer when compared to people who ate it twice a week (7).

Eating more plants benefits our bodies by providing fiber and health-boosting vitamins and minerals. Fiber helps prevent diseases such as diabetes and heart attack while keeping our digestive tracts strong (8). If each country were to adopt a more sustainable diet, with less meat and more plants, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 30%.

Simple steps towards sustainability 

We all have different preferences and eating patterns that make us feel good. What matters is having a balanced lifestyle including healthy foods like fiber-rich fruits and vegetables which help prevent disease while being conscious of your carbon footprint.

The key is to cut down, not cut out. Small changes can be beneficial to you and future generations. So, let’s look at some simple swaps. If you’re a regular meat-eater, the first step to benefit your health and the planet is simply to eat less of it. 

Eat one plant-based meal a week 

If you’re used to having meat with most meals, try having one plant-based meal a week. If you eat meat every day, try cutting down to 3-4 times a week instead. Many plant-based meals are just as satisfying. Portobello mushrooms, for instance, make a great burger. 

Swap an alternative 

Cutting down on meat doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on good quality protein. Many plant-based foods contain good sources of protein and are awesome for your heart and gut. Beans, nuts, lentils, and whole grains, for example, contain protein. 

Keep in mind that just because something is meat-free, doesn’t mean it's healthy. Many meatless foods can contain high amounts of added sugar and sodium and sometimes a large amount of saturated fat. Check out the label and look for options with natural ingredients. 

Pick less processed 

Processed meat, in particular, contains harmful chemicals and can be really rough on the environment. Eating too much of these has been directly linked to bowel and colon cancer. (9) Limit processed meats such as sausage, deli meat, bacon, and ham. Replace it with fresh meats, organic, grass-fed options whenever possible. 

Mix-in vegetables

Vegetables can be woven into dishes, making them healthier, lower in calories, and with less meat. Grate carrots or chop onion and add them to many dishes such as pasta sauces, lasagne, savory pancakes, and bread (carrot or zucchini). Greens are also an excellent addition to bulk up some eggs.

Plant-based recipe: chicken and bean patties with potato and broccoli mash

Yes, this Lifesum app recipe contains some meat, but it's an excellent example of how easy it is to reduce your meat consumption. You get the flavor and satisfaction of chicken while adding some high-fiber chickpeas. A perfect recipe for the whole family! 

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 14 oz/400 g ground chicken
  • 2 cups/330 g boiled chickpeas 
  • 4 small potatoes 
  • 4 cups/480 g broccoli
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup/20 g sliced green onions
  • 4 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp chili flakes 


  1. Add the chickpeas into a bowl and mash them with a fork. Add the ground chicken, 1 tsp salt, and chili flakes.
  2. Form into 4 small patties.
  3. Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until soft.
  4. Add oil to a frying pan, and cook the patties golden on medium-high heat.
  5. Mix yogurt, green onions, lemon zest, and 1 tsp salt.
  6. Add the broccoli to the potatoes in water and boil for 1 minute.
  7. Pour out the water and mash the broccoli and the potatoes using a stick mixer. 
  8. Serve the mash with patties and yogurt sauce. 

9 references (hide)

All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice. If you have or think you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, do not use the Lifesum app and seek immediate medical help.