Your beginner’s guide to ethical eating

Love to get your family eating more ethically but don’t know where to start? This beginner’s guide will show you how!

More and more of us today are becoming conscious of the food we eat. From organic food to locally sourced produce, we’re actively choosing more ethical, healthy options.

But if you’re just starting out on your new ethical eating lifestyle, working out what and how to eat can be overwhelming. There’s so much advice that it can be difficult to know what to do for the best.

To help you make a start, here are some simple changes you can make to your weekly shop to set you on the path to a more ethical lifestyle.

Look for produce grown locally

Farmers markets are one of the best places to find locally produced fruit and vegetables. Food grown locally will not only be fresher, having not travelled too far from where it was grown, but by buying directly from the farmers you are supporting your local community. If you’re wondering where your local farmers market is, this guide to finding local food can help.

Or, if you have green fingers and a bit of outdoor space, you can make sure your fresh produce is as local as possible by starting your own vegetable patch. This can be as simple as growing a few herbs in pots on a window ledge, or you can throw yourself fully into it by creating a vegetable plot in your garden, or renting an allotment from your local council.

If this is something you’d like to find out more about, The National Allotment Society is the best place to start.

Look for produce that’s in season

Choosing fruits and vegetables that are in season can be as easy as a quick online search (you’ll find a comprehensive table of what food is in season here). There are also a number of smartphone apps that will let you know exactly what’s in season in your area for the time of year. This means you can head out to the shops pre-armed with the knowledge to make more ethical choices.

Farmers markets are, again, a good place to go to source seasonal produce. If you’re in doubt about what’s in season, you’re in the perfect place to ask about the best varieties to choose at that time of year.

Know where your meat comes from

In relation to this, there was a time where the only way humans could feast on some tasty meat was to hunt for it themselves, killing the animal and preparing the meat for cooking.

The UK has some of the best animal welfare laws in Europe, however the treatment of livestock can still be concerning for many people. So if you’re trying to eat more ethically, one of the easiest things to do is to cut meat out of your diet.

Or, if that seems too big a step, you can start by reducing the amount of meat you eat. By eating meat only once or twice a week you’ll be saving money, meaning you can afford to make better choices when you do buy meat. Visit your local butcher, instead of the supermarket, and you will be able to find out exactly where your meat comes from.

Plan your meals

According to the Foods Standards Agency, in the UK we throw out around 7 million tonnes of food every year, much of which could have been eaten.

Not only is this amount of waste bad for the environment, but it costs us money. However, it’s easy to take steps to reduce your food waste, and planning your meals every week is a good place to start. (You can read a thorough guide to getting started on meal planning here.)

It’s also a good idea to batch cook and freeze additional portions for another day, as well as freezing leftovers from meals to help reduce the amount of food that ends up in the bin. You can read tips on freezing here, as well as a list of the foods you can freeze.

Every little ethical bit helps

Achieving a truly ethical food chain won’t happen overnight, but every small step we make is in the right direction. The important thing to remember is to make the ethical choices that are right for you – it’s much easier to stick to life changes if they fit naturally into our lives.

And don’t worry if you only start by making tiny changes; if we all take small steps towards ethical eating, it will add up to make a big difference.

Need more healthy eating tips? Find out how you can prepare tasty and healthy meals for your family in a rush

Photo by Sharon Chen