More plants, less animal products

How to eat in a balanced way and consider the planet?

By preferring delicious plant-based food, you can reduce your impact on the environment. When consuming animal-based products, choose carefully and keep the quantities in limits of the health recommendations.

We all love food, but...

A very large part of life revolves around food. Someone has to grow it, package it, transport it and sell it. Someone to pick from the store shelf and make it into a pleasant dish. How to do this within the planet's ecological limits, so that it is high on human health benefits and low on environmental impacts?

Every food provider, cook and consumer can make better choices every day, preferring those production methods that put less burden on the nature around us. In the best case, food production can even have a positive effect on biodiversity.

On this page, the guides to the currently more environmentally friendly selection of fish and meat are presented for Estonia. In the future, we hope to add a guide for plant-based food and information about dairy products here.

More plants

Plant-based foods have almost always the smallest environmental footprint. Add plenty of tasty plants to your plate, including protein-rich legumes.

Less meat

Prefer plants and follow the health recommendations regarding the amount of meat. When consuming meat, choose certified options or grass-fed meat.

Prefer organic food

When growing organic food, mineral fertilizers and synthetic pesticides are not used. If possible, prefer organic food.

Prefer local fish

Eating fish transported from the other side of the world is not environmentally friendly in any way. If possible, eat fish caught or farmed in Estonia or nearby areas.

Local and seasonal

Seasonal and local food is fresh. By preferring it, you also reduce food waste and contribute to the local community.

Meat Guide

Plant-based food is the basis of a planet-friendly diet. When consuming meat, rather less and it is definitely worth choosing it carefully.

Qualitative assessment of different meat types considers the following impacts: climate, biodiversity, pesticide use, eutrophication.

Due to insufficient data and inherent variability of the effects, most of the drivers were not measured quantitatively; sufficient information is however available for qualitative assessment.

Issues considered in the assessment are briefly summarised below.

ELF has produced this Meat Guide in cooperation with WWF, and the most important assessments are in good agreement with other guides in other countries. However, ELF is solely responsible for the content of the domestic meat market.

Recommended:

  • local meat from grass-based systems (grazing)
  • organic meat
  • game meat

For climate

Methane CH4 emissions from enteric fermentation and manure storage; nitrous oxide N2O from N-fertiliser (including manure) application; CO2 emissions from agricultural soils, especially drained organic soils; CO2 emissions from deforestation for pastures and fields for feed (mostly but not only soya) production; N2O and CO2 emissions from mineral fertiliser production; energy use for feed production; transport.

For biodiversity

Habitat loss in global south (mostly South America) due to rainforest and savanna clearance for pastures and field for feed (mostly soya) growing; contribution of grazing animals (and to some extent also hay mowing for animal winter fodder) to biodiversity in Estonia by helping to conserve high nature value agricultural land, first and foremost the semi-natural pastures and meadows.

For pesticides

If pesticides are used for growing feed for animals.

For eutrophication

Both manure and mineral fertiliser can contribute to excess of nitrogen and phosphorus (N&P) on the fields and hence result in run-off to the waters and finally to the Baltic sea; it must be taken into account however that animals do not possess ability to sequester N from atmosphere nor do they travel to lick phosphate-rich rocks abroad: all N&P in manure is derived from what animals eat, hence excess of manure is either result of excessively high animal numbers, and long-range transport of feed, and/or mineral fertiliser use; global N-cycle is disturbance (that is in relative terms more severe than C-cycle imbalance) is primarily driven by mineral N-fertiliser production and use.

Fish Guide

You can find many different types of seafood on our menu. Unfortunately, the situation of all seafood is not good everywhere, and different fishing methods and farms also affect the environment.

The guide is based on the management of scientifically evaluated fish species. WWF evaluates all species listed in the fishing guide according to a scientific method based on three principles of sustainable fishing: the current status of fish populations, the environmental impact of fishing method and how well the fishery is managed. In the case of cultivated species, both the origin of the feed and the impact of cultivation on the surrounding environment have been assessed. 

Prefer local fish

Eating fish transported from the other side of the world is not environmentally friendly in any way. If possible, eat fish caught or farmed in Estonia or nearby areas.

Eat small fish

For example, give preference to herring or sprat, because these species are in a better situation than large-sized fish. In addition, small-sized fish grow to full size faster than large-sized fish.

Try something new

By varying your fish purchases, you reduce the pressure on popular and overfished species.

Make sure, where does your fish come from

Every retailer and producer has to provide the information, how and where the fish is caught. This allows you to check that the fish is not caught with a method that is environmentally damaging or from a region, where it is depleted.

Avoid fish in the red list

For example, European eel is globally critically endangered. Avoid eating or buying it! The same goes with most deep-sea species, rays and sharks.

Recommended:

  • Small pelagic fish, such as Baltic sprat or Baltic herring
  • Inland species such as pike perch from Lake Võrtsjärv or Lake Peipus
  • Invasive species such as round goby

Choose meat wisely

Meat Guide is a consumer guide prepared by the Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF) in cooperation with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) working group. It helps to make more environmentally friendly meat choices in Estonia. Plant-based food is the basis of a planet-friendly diet. When consuming meat, rather less and it is definitely worth choosing it carefully.

Choose fish wisel

Fish Guide is a guide prepared by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF), which helps to make more environmentally friendly fish and seafood choices in Estonia.

Tarbi taimi teadlikult

Taimefoor (ehk Plant Guide) on Eestimaa Looduse Fondi (ELF) poolt koostöös Maailma Looduse Fondi (WWF) töörühmaga koostatud juhend, mis aitab teha keskkonnahoidlikumaid taimevalikuid Eestis.

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40%

of global usable land surface is used for food production

80%

of biodiversity loss is related to food production

3 times more meat

Estonians eat three times more meat than recommended in dietary guidelines

About food and environment in English

Planet-based diets - Visit website

Hidden soy - Visit website

Fish Guide Meat Guide

#Eat4Change

toidufoor@elfond.ee

The project is co-funded by the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Estonian Fund for Nature and other Eat4Change partners and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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