Feature

Ethical food swaps

Green Lifestyle

Simple swaps to make, that’ll earn you serious eco-brownie points, the animals will thank you, and you'll get great health benefits too.

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Making the right decisions when it comes to your food are important.

What you put on your plate affects more than just you, and over the long-term, your good choices can have a huge positive impact.

But it's at the decision-making stage that it's easy to get confused, or perhaps even completely turned off trying to do the right thing at all.

So, we've compiled a quick go-to list of some of the simplest food swaps you can make, outlining the impact you could have on your own health, the wellbeing of the farmers who grew your food, and of course that of our Earth as well.

And if you think you're too small to make a difference, just remember the quote from American cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead:

"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

- Margaret Mead.
Swap this:
For this:
Why?
Cow's milk
Nut milk (Almond, Quinoa, Oat, Rice). You can even make your own. Depending on the nut, they are generally less resource intensive than animal farming. Can also be easier on digestion and provides a range of different micro-nutrients
Soy milk. A great brand is Bonsoy. Organic, non-GM soy is a great protein source. But enjoy in moderation as it can be high in phytoestrogens.
Goat’s milk. Try Nimbin Valley. Goats have a much lower eco-footprint, and the milk is much easier for our bodies to digest.
Organic cows milk - Country Valley farm in Picton has organic and premium options all processed in their own processing plant to reduce transport and the middle man. It's hard to know where your milk is actually coming from, but if you choose cerfitfied-organic you can rest assured that the cows are being looked after humanely, and that nothing artificial is given to the cows that could affect the quality of their milk.
Beef and lamb
Vegetables can make a great alternative to a steak. Try eggplant and mushroom. Spinach is also high in iron. Tofu can also be a good swap to make.
Beef is an incredibly resource-intensive industry, and creates a lot of methane emissions, so limit how much you eat. Or even better, don't eat any, and you could have a lower risk of heart disease.
It might sound gross, but you might like to try some offal instead! Cherry Tree Organics has a good range.
If you are concerned about iron intake, offal is more iron-rich than meat, and means less waste. Remember, by putting more Vitamin C rich vegies on your plate, it will help you absorb the iron too.
Many people know to choose grass fed, but did you know that it's important to ask for 'grass-finished' as well?! Try the GRUB Butchery. By putting cows in feed lots, it's not only incredibly inhumane, but the cows need to be fed grain. We could just be eating that grain instead!
Chicken Legumes (i.e chickpeas, mung beans)
For starters, it's going to be a lot cheaper for you. Also, there are some seriously great health benefits, such as beneficial micro-nutrients and essential minerals.
Tofu Tofu is so much easier to cook than chicken, and you don't have to be as pedantic about safe preparation and cooking. It's also really fun to experiment with different flavours and textures.
The very least you can do is to buy whole organic chickens instead of individual parts. Feather and Bone or local farmers markets, or Oaks Organics are all great options.
Chickens, when farmed in the right way, can greatly increase soil fertility – just be sure to choose organic to reduce pesticide use across our beautiful landscape. By buying whole, you can also use the leftover carcass for bone broth/stock, which is very healthy, and proven to be beneficial for reducing the symptoms of arthritis.
Fresh
or canned salmon and tuna
Sardines, Mackerel, or Yarra Valley Salmon. Some trout is also good, but remember that it is actually an introduced species in Australia.
Eating the larger species of fish means you're at a high risk of developing Mercury toxicity. For more info, check out the AMCS Sustainable Seafood Guide.
Hemp seeds - and Hemp Foods Australia is the premier supplier in Australia!
Avoid the problem of by-catch altogether, and get your healthy Omega-3s and more from plants! You can also take supplements, such as Lifestream's V-omega which is made from low-impact marine algae.
Eggs Chia or flaxseeds
Avoid the problem of how hens can be kept in horrendous conditions on battery farms, and opt to go vegan!
Free range, or even better biodynamic and organic, such as Mulloon Creek.
If you get your eggs from a truly-certified company that you know you can trust, you'll also be sure that there are no artificial dyes added to the food of hens to make their yolks a bright colour.
Processed meats Meat replacements. To make it easy for the wannabe-vegetarian to eat the kinds of foods that they're used to, Fry's Family foods look and even taste just like the 'real thing'.
Processed meats like devon, salami, and hot dogs contain very high amounts of nitrates and salt. Most pigs are smarter than dogs, yet they're kept in sow stalls under terrible conditions.
Long grain white rice
Choose Basmati or brown rice. Organic where possible, such as Organic Road.
Brown rice requires much less processing than white rice. Plus, Basmati and brown rice have a much lower GI than white rice, which won't fill you up for as long, or give you as many nutrients.
Peanut butter
Almond butter or Sesame tahini (organic of course!)
There's a huge amount of pesticides used in conventional peanut farming. Opt to get a range of nutrients, and make yourself some deliciously unique snacks. Another major benefit of avoiding peanuts is that you'll have less chance of exposing friends, family, and school or workmates to a potentially life-threatening allergen.
Imported quinoa There's a wonderful, certified-organic, Australian-grown quinoa from Kindred Organics.
The demand for quinoa in South America is leading to severe social and environmental issues in the country. And there's all those carbon-miles on imported foods.
White flour
Buckwheat, quinoa, besan (chickpea) flour, coconut, or brown rice flour. Honest to Goodness has a good range.
Wheat tends to be grown in a monoculture crop, whereas the more 'niche' flours are grown on smaller-scale farms, which have less impact on the environment. Wheat grain can also have an inflammatory effect on the body.
Protein supplements
For an everyday ebergy boost, try Shakti's Superfood Blend. There's also a great Pea protein from The Healthy Chef.
Legume-based supplements are better than using dairy-based ones, as there's a much lower eco-footprint. These micro-nutrients from ethical, non-animal sources are perfectly suitable for supplementing humane vegan or vegetarian diets.
Tomato sauce Make your own. Or choose a trusted, healthy brand, like Spiral Foods. Conventional tomato sauce is basically just a big bottle of liquid sugar and salt! And the taste isn't even that great – especially compared to what you can make with love yourself.