We’ve all heard the praise for the Mediterranean diet and the abundance of health benefits it brings along. This diet is primarily constituted of plant-based foods, like whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables and nuts, fish and seafood twice weekly, and a limited amount of red meat. Several studies have shown it improves heart health, weight loss and diabetes. Most recently, the Mediterranean diet was deemed the #1 best diet overall by US News!

But with the rising concern surrounding climate change and what we as individuals can do, people are thinking beyond how our diet benefits ourselves to question its environmental impact.

The Mediterranean diet has garnered much attention for its environmental awareness through its encouragement of seasonal produce. The Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition created a double pyramid to visualize how foods impact both our health and the health of the environment, based on the Mediterranean diet. It reveals that foods, such as red meat which should be consumed less, also produce the largest environmental impact.


Meditteranean pyramid

With the research backing the Mediterranean diet for its strides towards both our own and the environment’s health, we ask “What I can do to consume food sustainably, too!”.

Here are three suggestions:

  1. Source your food locally as best as you can!

Buying fresh fruits and vegetables from farmer’s markets not only decreases the carbon food print that is produced by shipping, but it also makes ensures the quality of your food and that your money goes directly to the farmers!

  1. Purchase produce that is in season!

Purchasing foods in season in your area, additionally eliminates the environmental impact as compared to buying foods which are only in season in another part of the world and require extensive shipping. There are several online guides that can help inform you, based on your location, which foods are in season!

3. Ask your grocer if their seafood is sourced sustainably!

The Mediterranean diet suggests two servings of seafood, so trying to purchase seafood that has been caught or farmed responsibly can do lots for the environment! The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great online consumer guide, based on state, with suggestions on where to purchase sustainable seafood!

All this information and awareness can be overwhelming, and you don’t have to go do everything all at once! Small changes made by many individuals can make a big impact. So, go forth and make a small change for you and the environment!

And don’t forget to check out the recipes on the site to help you get started on your journey to health and sustainability!

Christabelle Ong is CFYL’s winter intern. She is a third year, psychology major at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, and will attend the Yale School of Public Health as part of the BA/MPH program with a concentration Social and Behavioral Sciences. She hopes to become a public health professional after her graduation in 2021. Christabelle is interested in public health and how we can motivate individuals to enact health-promoting behaviors. To this end, she has worked in student welfare organizations and has interned with the Singapore Ministry of Health. As a major foodie, Christabelle is especially interested in nutrition, and how changes in determinants such as diet, exercise, and socio-economic status can work together to make healthier people.



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