How to create a sustainable and ethical menu

Sustainability has been one of the food industry’s hot topics for a while now and although creating a menu for a small group of friends is easy enough, when it comes to large scale events and feeding hundreds or even thousands in one sitting, the potential for waste can be fairly significant.

We should continue to make sure menus are both sustainable and ethical, without having to compromise on quality.


Reduce, reuse, recycle

Adopt the theory of ‘first do no harm’, this means cutting down on the waste you already create. For example, rather than throwing out those potato peelings, a quick roast in the oven will give you a crisp snack that makes for a perfect pre-dinner or complimentary aperitif.

Vegetable off cuts can be added to a compost heap, and used to vastly improve the quality of almost any soil, perfect for use in the home garden for those who grow their own produce.

Sustainability is all about using a bit of ingenuity to maximise output while minimising effort, and ensuring you utilise all useable parts of your produce whether that be eating or recycling it.


Make sustainable substitutions

When designing a menu, consider using ingredients which are less at risk. This way you can rest assured knowing your food is ethical while also trying something new. Instead of cod for your next fish supper opt for coley, the least expensive fish in the cod family and a great sustainable substitute which is just as flavoursome.

The same can be implemented with meat, replacing the Sunday roast with something less common than chicken, beef or lamb. The autumn/winter season is the perfect time to explore meats that aren’t typically favoured, and with grouse, guinea fowl, hare, partridge, pheasant, venison and wood pigeon all in season, you’ll be spoilt for choice!


Buy local

Where you source ingredients can have a major effect on your overall sustainability. Establishing good relationships with hard working local suppliers from the off is an essential method for guaranteeing good practice as well as the best quality produce. Locally sourced food will generally be a higher quality but will also cut food miles, increase freshness and support the local community.

Sticking to seasonal menus underscores your adaptability as well as ensuring that dishes provide a natural variety.


When creating your own sustainable menu, ask yourself these three questions; “what is the impact on the environment?”, “what is the impact on the product supply?” and “what is the impact on the local community?”

If you can develop a meal which takes all of these into account and minimises the negative effects on each, you will be well on the way to a more sustainable, maintainable and ethical menu.

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