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6 Ways to Make Your Dinner Menu More Eco-Friendly

Whether you’re throwing a dinner party or making a meal for one, there are endless easy ways to make your menu more eco-friendly.

These six tips will get you started on greener dining, but remember, there’s always more that can be done around dinner time. For example, think about the way you serve your meals: Are you using single-use plastic straws, utensils, or disposable dinnerware? Are you pairing your plate with paper napkins instead of linen alternatives? Are you tossing a lot away?

Little tweaks to your routine can make a world of difference for our planet. For now though, let’s focus on the most important aspect of any meal: the food!

Skip the beef

Beef production is a whopping 10x more damaging to the environment than poultry, pork, or dairy products. In one study, it was found to require around 28 times more land than the other categories, 11 times more water, and it contributed five times more greenhouse gas emissions.

Skipping the beef and replacing it with other proteins like chicken, turkey, or plant-based options will significantly lower the ecological impact of your meal.

Stick to local and organic options

There’s a reason you keep hearing about local and organic options. Choosing local foods reduces the amount of carbon emissions required to transport from the farm to your plate. Organic methods of agriculture and livestock production have also been found, time and time again, to be more sustainable and less destructive to the surrounding environment.

You can find local and organic options for produce, meat, fish, and dairy in your neighbourhood grocery store or, better yet, farmer’s market.

Hold the guac

I’m sorry to say it, but our planet can’t support our ever-growing love of avocados.

In Mexico, where the stone fruit originated, the export demand is so high that farmers have taken to illegally cutting down forests to make more land space to fuel our Instagrammable obsession. Consuming imported avocados is contributing to mass deforestation, species displacement, and civil unrest to the point where “avocado police” stand guard to protect the “green gold.” Local prices for the food staple are skyrocketing and the country, who currently supplies nearly half of the world’s avocados, has even considered importing for their own needs.

Serve raw veggies

I’m not just talking about carrots and dip here. There are countless raw vegetable dishes that make excellent and impressive sides at any dinner table. Case in point: This colourful and flavourful Rainbow Noodle Salad with Pesto.

But why raw? Well, avoiding cooking means reducing the overall energy consumption of your meal. It also saves time and water if you typically boil or steam your veggies.

Forget about bottled drinks

Unless you live in an area that doesn’t have access to safe drinking water, there really is no reason why you can’t simply serve tap water and save the plastic, glass, or aluminum packaging associated with bottled bevies.

If you want to impress some guests (or simply treat yourself), fill a carafe with frozen fruit and tap water. The fruit doubles as ice and a flavour-infusion.

Double your recipe

Cooking in bulk cuts down the total amount of energy used per meal. Think of it like this: Instead of turning on the oven at separate times for separate meals, you can maximize the heat output by cooking in bigger batches at once. You also reduce the amount of dishwashing and cleaning required.

The best part? Today’s leftovers are tomorrow’s lunch.

Still not sure what to serve? Check out these delicious eco-friendly dinner ideas:

Turkey Italian Sausage Tomato Sauce from Simple Ecology

Barley Stew with Root Vegetables from Greener Ideal

Marinated Mushroom Bowl with Lentils and Wild Rice from Go Dairy Free

Chicken Pot Pie from Sustainable Baby Steps