Year for the Planet Week 17: My Kitchen Arsenal for a Planet-Friendly Diet

Before you can fix the world, you have to fix yourself. Year for a Planet is a personal challenge to be a better human for the planet for a whole year. This year, 2017, is where I deal with my food choices.


Most of the time, I write about what I removed from my life to have a diet that has a lower impact on the planet. No processed food! No plastic! No straws! No food I have a tendency to eat my weight in! This week, I shall enthuse about the things that I introduced into my life. So far, I’ve learned that when you want to live a lifestyle that goes against the system you are in, it pays to be prepared. Everything you are against will be flung at you the moment you leave the house, turn on your TV, or log onto the internet. Are you ready, soldiers?

Consider this as my arsenal:

1. Reusable bags and a reusable water bottle
I lump these into one because they go together in my bag when I leave the house or when traveling. Using eco bags and a refillable water bottle isn’t a revelation, but it’s something I used to take for granted and many times I would forget. Now, I realized that stress eating is mostly because I feel dehydrated, and the former is shut down perfectly when I have water in my bag. I breeze past fast food stalls and Starbucks without blinking when I would previously see them as pit stops. I’m weighed down by less stuff because I reject packaging. Nowadays I feel like I’m in better control of my day, whether I’m stuck in traffic, waiting for the doctor, or stuck in line at the mall. Also, because I prepare my meals in advance, I need to go shopping less. Less gas and money spent, more investment in my health, and more time to do work I actually want to do.

Pro tip: Have another reusable bottle for coffee, smoothies, or any other go-to drink you need.

2. Mason jars
These aren’t just for storing, but also for packing some snacks to bring with me when I’m gone for the day or the weekend, which these days translates to these protein and energy balls—hodgepodges of oatmeal and peanut butter, or raw cashews and lemon. The days of binge-eating pizzas and doughnuts seem like a faded nightmare now.

3. Dedicated cookware
And by this I mean pans that are made from safe materials, such as stainless steel, cast iron, porcelain enamel, titanium ceramic, etc. I’ve never been so excited to have a dedicated omelette pan in my life, but it’s the one joy I have in the morning.  I also have bowls for specific food staples so it’s easy to see if I’m running out of anything, and containers in the refrigerator to store excess food so I don’t waste them.

4. A spiralizer
I don’t like food trends, but this one I can get by. I use a spiralizer to turn sweet potatoes into pad thai noodles, or zucchini as a substitute for pasta. I can eat a bathtub’s worth of noodles, but when you spiralize a vegetable, the portions are finite. It’s just 1 medium zucchini versus looking longingly at a whole pack of spaghetti. Best of all, I have more energy after eating instead of feeling sleepy afterwards. My uncle from the States sent a couple to my mom here in Manila. I asked for a model that was travel-sized so I can bring it with me if I have to go on my residency and exhibition tours (which are coming up soon!). Spiralizing is fun; it’s like sharpening the vegetable, except you get to eat the shavings.

5. Measuring tools
When you’re hangry, you don’t trust your eyes—you trust measuring cups and a kitchen scale. Bonus points if you have a travel sized scale like mine. Got it? Good.

In taekwondo, we had tools for training—a punching bag, a kick pad, armor, etc.—and we improvise if necessary. Even a belt, which indicated our ranks, could be used for specific purposes such as a blindfold, a rope for tug-of-war, and other creative ways. Obviously, my arsenal is not perfect and my war on unsustainable eating goes on. But it keeps most of the enemies at bay and I feel less overwhelmed with our society’s avalanche of seemingly well-meaning yet horrible dietary options.


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