You might pride yourself on eating eco meals, but just how green are the ingredients used in restaurants? It’s impossible to know exactly what’s potting in the kitchen (is the chef really using organic eggs in that omelette?). However, you can control dining out as much as possible.
Although it’s eco-friendly to cook up your own organic meals at home, sometimes you want to go out on the town and try out a new restaurant. Did you know it can also be more eco-friendly? At home your stove or oven uses a lot of energy to make meals for a small amount of people. In restaurants, however, that energy is used to feed many more mouths, so energy is used instead of wasted.
The next time you’re heading out for a dinner on the town, here’s how to make your meals as green as possible:
- Bring your own takeaway container, preferably a stainless steel container. Restaurants often make the un-eco-friendly mistake of giving you plastic or cardboard takeaway boxes. These wind up being thrown away because they can’t even be recycled, thanks to having been tarnished with food. By bringing your own container, your unfinished meal won’t go to waste and you won’t use plastic.
- If you’re heading to a fast-food restaurant, also bring your own utensils.
- Order tap water instead of bottled water. In SA, restaurants account for 17% of bottled water sales. That’s a whole lot of plastic!
- Let your organic dinner start even before you head to the restaurant. Agree that you and your friends or partner travel in one car so you save on fuel and lower your carbon footprint. If it’s during the day and the restaurant is within distance, why not get some sun on your shoulders and walk to the restaurant instead of driving? It’s a great way to burn-off all the calories after your meal, too!
- Try a vegetarian meal instead of one that contains meat. Raising animals uses a lot of natural resources, such as land for grazing as well as water. Did you know it takes up to twenty times more fossil fuel to grow meat than it does to grow the equivalent weight in vegetables? When dining out, choose a vegetarian version of your favourite meal, such as a vegetarian curry or lasagna. It’s the healthier choice.
- If you’re insistent on choosing a meat dish, drill the waiter about their meat. Here are some pointers to look for: Chicken should be free-range; beef should be pasture-raised or grass-fed; and fish should be organic-farmed or wild.
- Order produce that is in season so that you prevent fruits and vegetables from being shipped to you from other parts of the world. This cuts down on pollution and the plastic wrapping needed for transporting the products.
- Ask the waiter if what you wish to order is made on the premises. This also prevents transport, pollution and cuts down your carbon footprint.
You can make your dining out that much greener by choosing an eco-friendly restaurant that prides itself on producing healthy, organic meals. Here are some great picks to try:
The Greenside Café
Since April 2012, the cuisine offered at The Greenside Café is vegan, so you can enjoy food that’s eco-friendly and healthy for you. On their website, the café states: ‘The Greenside Café mission is to show people that the vegetarian/vegan diet is delicious, exciting and filled with endless variety. We are what we eat and the Greenside Café is all about health and happiness.’ Sounds good to us!
34 Gleneagles Road
Tel: 011 646 3444
96 Winery Road Restaurant
Set in the beautiful Helderberg countryside, this restaurant uses fresh, organic and locally sourced products. The main menu changes every season, so you’re always assured of something new and exciting.
96 Winery Road Restaurant
Tel: 021 842 2020
Leafy Greens Café
This vegan organic café and store use fresh produce that is taken from their very own vegetable garden, as well as locally-sourced products that are also organic. Not only can you enjoy weekend breakfasts and brunches here, but you can enroll for a fun cooking class and buy health products from the store. Leafy Greens helps local charities and their greater vision is to help feed Africa by teaching people to grow their own vegetable gardens.
Plot 328 Rocky Ridge Road
Tel: 087 805 6221