Are you a Sustainable Diner? 9 Ways to Practice Sustainability When Dining Out

Savour Planet, a wordplay on Save Our Planet is a sustainable dining advocacy led at the forefront by World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines.

The Sustainable Diner is a series of talks among people in the food industry in an effort to promote sustainable dining among restaurants and diners alike.

The use of this word has risen in the restaurant scene, along with “organic” and “farm-to-table”. But what does it mean to be truly sustainable?

To be sustainable is to consider all factors that come into play when it comes to your food. The source, the farming practices, the packaging, and even their waste management systems. Utilizing local produce, minimize waste, support local economies—all while minimizing the impact on the environment.

However, this may seem too much for the common diner. How can you practice sustainability on a smaller scale?


1. Dine in sustainable restaurants often


When dining out, I try to make it a point to eat at sustainable restaurants. With the advent of the eco-conscious movements, it’s no longer difficult to find restaurants that practice sustainability. Some examples of sustainable restaurants in Manila include Green Pastures by Chef Robby Goco and Melt Grilled Cheesery by Chef James Torres. Both restaurants employ a zero-waste system, and procure their produce from local farmers.


2. Choose dishes made of ingredients that are in season.


On out of town trips to coastal areas and islands, I take advantage of the fresh seafood and fruits available. I know that they are freshly caught and harvested, and therefore taste much better. Bonus points for the lesser carbon footprint it took to reach my plate.

Take advantage of limited and seasonal offerings of restaurants as this means they’re focusing on the freshness and limited availability of the produce.


3. Be adventurous! Try plant-based dishes.


While I am not vegetarian, I try to limit my meat intake when I’m home. On days that I have to review restaurants though, it’s a different story.

Plant-based dishes don’t necessarily have to be just a plateful of salad greens. On a recent trip to Camiguin, we were even able to try Coconut burger.  The bread and the patty were both made from coconut. It’s one proof that you don’t necessarily have to give up the taste of meat when trying vegan food.

Meat production takes up a lot of natural resources – greenhouse gases and water, mostly. Why not explore more vegetarian or vegan dishes? Good Food Sundays at Mandala Park and Corner Tree are both great places to check for great vegan/vegetarian fare.


4. Order only what you can finish


I plead guilty with the crime of ordering too much. It’s easy to get lost in the menu and order everything that sounds amazing. However, I’ve been growing more conscious of this practice and limiting my orders. One appetizer instead of two, just one meal for each person on the table, and practicing immense restraint with the dessert selection.

Make it a point to consider if you can really finish your order. Start small, and only order seconds when necessary.


5. Ask about the dish and its ingredients


During one of my recent work sessions at a café, I was supposed to order an avocado shake to cool down the summer heat. However when I inquired if they were using fresh avocados, they replied that they use powdered shake mix. I opted for a cold brew instead.

Sourcing fresh produce locally is a must to be sustainable. Swap your salmon for local tuna, or your USDA steak for local and grass-fed beef. Consider our local farmers and fishermen next time you eat out.


6. Don’t be afraid to request for modifications


I prefer my breakfast eggs scrambled rather than sunny side up and at times, I like to order my Japanese curry on the side rather than served on the plate.

Whether it’s asking for a smaller serving of rice or changing the spiciness level to something you can handle, it doesn’t hurt to ask. At the end of the day, it matters that you finish the food on your plate so they don’t end up as waste. Ask nicely, restaurants are more than happy to comply.


7. Bring your own reusable utensils


I just bought a set of bamboo straws and cleaner from Kalye Artisano and I’ve been bringing it with me when I decide to eat out. When I do forget it though, I just refuse the plastic straw.

Avoid single-use plastic. A set of spoon and fork can easily be bought at your local department store, or just even bring one from home. Metal straws are increasingly becoming more accessible to the general public as well.


8. Segregate your waste properly


Don’t just dump everything into a single waste bin; Food wastes, plastics, and paper should all have their own respective bins. Practice this at home and even in fast-food restaurants.


9. Educate your friends about sustainable dining.


I’m constantly buying metal straws to give as gifts to my friends, in hopes that this will encourage them to be more conscious of small things like plastic straws.

Encourage your friends to make small changes in their lifestyle as this will benefit the greater good. Small acts can create ripples that will eventually turn into waves.


Practicing sustainability may seem like such a drastic lifestyle change, but it really isn’t. All it takes is a conscious effort to care more about the planet and preserving it for the future generations.

Do you practice sustainability when dining out? Do you have any other tips to share? 🙂


Live an Awesome Life,

Monique of Team Our Awesome Planet

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