Green investing and a green lifestyle are a natural pairing. As families navigate their health and money strategies, it’s important to look at new lifestyle choices that benefit the body and portfolio. Sustainability and green living are major topics of discussion in the health and business worlds, and there are numerous documentaries and studies on the benefits of plant-based diets. Before you take the deep dive, here’s a quick primer on how green living goes hand-in-hand with green investing.
Let’s start with an introduction to nutrition in the US. But we warn you, it isn’t pretty. FP faculty writer Tyler Mayoras tells us that, despite having the highest GDP and arguably the best medical care in the world, the US does not have the healthiest population. In fact, in 2022, the US ranked 35 out of 169 countries in overall health.
The US is near the top of other, more ominous categories. We are #1 in obesity among countries with at least 50 million in population. We have the 17th highest mortality rate from cardiovascular disease. We are 5th in cancer rates per 100,000 people. What is the common denominator? We are the clear leader in meat consumption, consuming a massive 219 pounds of meat per person each year.
Following a plant-based diet used to be complicated. It meant you had to prepare all of your own food. However, times have changed. There are now options at restaurants and grocery stores across the US for plant-based dishes making vegan or plant-based diets much easier to adopt. Prepared food brands include Amy’s Kitchen, Beyond Meat, Cool Beans, Ripple, Gardein, Daiya, Lightlife, and Sweet Earth Foods.
More and more restaurant chains, like Native Foods Café, Veggie Grill, PlantPower, and ByChloe offer plant-based foods. Mainstream restaurants are amping up plant-based selections too. For example, Panera, Pret-A-Manger, and Chipotle now have vegan choices on their menus.
These expanding green options are indicative of a growing market, an opportunity for green investing.
Aside from going plant-based, you can choose to be an ESG investor with a strategy promoting sustainable companies.
A sustainable investing strategy diversifies your portfolio as well. A 2019 white paper produced by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing found that in 2008 and 2018, traditional funds lost more than sustainable funds.
According to Bloomberg’s 4th annual ranking of ESG funds. Assets managed by 75 retail funds climbed 34% to $101 billion in 2019 and the top 9 ESG mutual funds outperformed the S&P 500 in 2020.
The investment research company, Morningstar, analyzed 26 sustainable index funds in Q1 of 2020. They found that 24 outperformed comparable traditional funds even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re looking to become an ESG investor, choose funds with a high Morningstar Sustainability rating. If you’re vegan or considering it, make sure the funds have 0% exposure to animal testing. It can be difficult to find funds that have performed well and meet these criteria, but it is not impossible.
Some top ESG funds to consider include iShares Global Clean Energy ETF, Janus Henderson Global Sustainable Equity, and RobecoSAM Smart Energy.
It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to convert to a fully plant-based diet — or to stuff their portfolio with ESG funds. A sustainable investment strategy isn’t for everyone, but it is a socially responsible way to secure your future and contribute less to the destruction of the environment.
Total commitment isn’t needed. Big change comes from small steps. Consider relying on animal proteins less often. You can even embrace a “flexitarian” lifestyle — eliminating some, but not all, animal-based products and replacing them with plant-based protein.
When it comes to green investing and green living, you have to find what works for you. Small changes to your lifestyle and your portfolio bring positive change in your health, your wallet, and our planet’s future.
Check out the upcoming Earning Green by Investing Green event on April 27, 2023. A one-day event featuring experts from across the green economy, this symposium on navigating the green economy seeks to provide investors, asset managers, advisors, and other professionals with the information and perspectives they need to make smart, ethical, and lucrative choices in their portfolios. Attend in person or stream the event live, but don’t miss out!
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