Green Travel Tips for Eating While Away From Home

A park with picnic tables

What you eat while you are away is an important consideration for green travel. While you may already be taking steps to go greener when eating at home, you may find it more of a challenge to make the right choices while you are away. But the following tips should help you make the right choices for your travel food.

Choose Food Grown as Locally As Possible

This first tip applies just as much for when you are at home as for when you are on vacation. In order to reduce the cost to people and planet of transporting food, it is best to choose food that was grown as locally as possible. At home, this can often mean growing at least some of your own food in your garden, on a rooftop or balcony, or even just on a sunny windowsill. But obviously, growing your own is not an option on vacation.

So how do you find locally grown food? Where might you be able to find local food when you are traveling in an unfamiliar location? Well, the good news is that in many destinations around the world, locally grown food is easy to source. In cities, you might be able to seek out city farms or community gardens which sell their produce. Farmer’s markets can also be a good source. Fortunately, many sustainable accommodation options and restaurants are now focussed on locality (and seasonality), and will serve food grown in the nearby area.

Opt for Organic Options Where Available

When buying fresh local produce or enjoying food at a cafe or restaurant, it is also always best, if you want to enjoy a green travel experience, to pick food that is organically grown wherever possible. Organic options can be a little more expensive, but paying that extra is but a small price to pay for the future of our planet.

Mono-crop, non-organic agriculture uses herbicides, pesticides and other pollutants which damage the soil, pollute waterways, and kill wildlife and even people.

Ammonia, produced for fertilizers, is one of the major industries contributing to climate change. But food can be grown organically, without harming our planet in this way. Choosing organic food while at home, and while away on a green vacation, is one of the best things that you can do to ensure a sustainable future for our planet.

Consider Vegan or Vegetarian Options

Another thing to consider when on a green travel adventure, is the true cost of eating meat. Putting ethical concerns about the treatment of animals aside for the moment – there are also strong environmental reasons to consider vegan or vegetarian options. Fortunately, giving up meat (and perhaps also dairy) on your green travels does not need to be a hardship. Increasingly, in many parts of the world, there are a wide range of vegan and vegetarian offerings to choose from, and wide range of delicious plant-based meals that you could try.

Select Sustainable Establishments When Eating Out

If you plan to dine out on your green travel explorations, then it is important to try to select places to eat that are as sustainable as possible. While you may not always be able to find the ideal place, you can vote with your feet and award your business to the greenest and most ethical option.

Try to choose a cafe, restaurant or other eatery which not only serves local, seasonal and organic produce but which also:

  • is wise in its use of resources. (For example, it might run on renewables, and use water wisely.)
  • has sustainable waste-management practices. (E.g. recycles/ reuses wherever possible.)
  • returns surplus to the system. (i.e. through giving excess food to charities/ the homeless/ the local community; through composting food waste to grow more food, rather than sending it to landfill.)

Tips for Self-Catering Stays

Since it can sometimes be a challenge to find sustainable places to eat while you are on vacation, it is definitely worthwhile considering self-catering options, so that you can have full control over what ends up on your plate. Sourcing and cooking sustainable food does not need to be a chore – it can become an enjoyable part of your vacation.

Here are some tips for sustainable self-catering stays:

  • Visit farmer’s markets, farm shops & pick-your own places to source fresh, local ingredients.
  • Try to cook meals from scratch rather than buying packaged, processed meals.
  • Pack a picnic to avoid buying unethical and unhealthy food on the go.

Bring Your Own Reusable Food and Drink Containers To Reduce Plastic Use

Whether you are dining out or self-catering on your green travels, packing your own reusable food and drinks containers to use on the go can help you to reduce your plastic use, and help to solve the massive problem of plastic waste on our planet. Carrying your own reusable water bottle and plastic-free food container for picnics/ take out meals etc. can help you make your adventures kinder on our planet.

Avoid Food Waste Wherever Possible

One final tip for eating on a sustainable, eco-friendly vacation is to make sure that you value food, and do your best at all times not to waste it. It does not matter whether you are eating out or feeding yourself with fresh, local, organic produce, you should remember everything that it takes to get that nutrition onto your plate, and not leave leftovers to go to waste.

These green travel tips for eating while away from home are just some important things to consider. Bear these tips in mind and wherever you choose to go, you should be able to have a far more ethical and sustainable stay.

Author of our ‘green’ articles is Elizabeth Waddington – a professional writer and a consultant on topics related to permaculture, sustainability, green living and eco travel.

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