Thinking about taking your sustainable eating habits on holiday with you can be quite daunting. It’s hard to predict how eco-friendly a country will be when it comes to food, but it needn’t put you off travelling altogether, and it certainly shouldn’t mean you stop aiming to eat sustainably whilst doing so. It is possible to explore new places and indulge in delicious food, all whilst being kind to the planet.
Why It’s Important to Eat Sustainably When Travelling
According to the WWF, food is responsible for at least 30% of greenhouse emissions globally, and this will continue to rise if more people do not take action. On top of that, 70% of fresh water taken from lakes and rivers is used in agriculture, an industry which is also the biggest cause of deforestation. The numbers are alarming and that is why finding food that is responsibly sourced or doesn’t create so much waste is so important.
How to Eat More Sustainably When Travelling
It should be easy to eat sustainably at home as you know the area well and can make better-informed decisions, knowing what else is available. When travelling, you’re exploring new areas and therefore, sourcing food can be unpredictable. Language barriers can cause misunderstandings in knowing exactly what it is you’re looking for. It is worth trying your hardest though, because of the damage that our food system causes to the environment.
We’ve put together a list of things that you can do on holiday to eat more sustainably, but these are also things that you could practice at home as well.
Reduce Food Waste & Compost
Reducing your food waste might seem difficult when travelling, especially if your hotel is catering for you or you are planning to eat at restaurants every night. You cannot control the amount of waste that these places produce, but there are things you can do to help. For instance, try to find an eco-hotel that strives to keep their waste minimal. Kiwano can help with this as we list genuinely eco-friendly hotels and tell you all about their green practices, including waste. Look at our lodges here, our hotels here and our villas here.
Composting is one great way to reuse your waste. It is extremely beneficial for the environment and stops waste from ending up in a landfill where it will decompose and release methane. In terms of composting, it may be difficult to do whilst travelling, but again you can choose a hotel or restaurant that composts its waste.
Avoid Plastic Packaging
The world is becoming more and more aware of the dangers of plastic. The Independent reports that around 8 million tons of plastic is added to the ocean each year, which is on top of the estimated 150 million tons already there. Currently, only 9% of the world’s plastic can be recycled, which is concerning considering that the rest of it just breaks down into smaller pieces and never really disappears. A lot of food is packaged in single-use plastic that cannot be recycled and consequently adds to the plastic problem. Avoiding plastic when shopping can be difficult, but it is possible. Try to shop at farmers’ markets that don’t package their products, this can be especially great when travelling as you get to explore the area and interact with locals. Also, you can choose to stay at an eco-hotel that has a strict policy against single-use plastic.
Choose Plant-Based Foods
Meat production has some extremely negative consequences for the environment, including water pollution and wastage, deforestation and green-house emissions. It is usually better to choose to eat plant-based foods where you can because of this. You might find that you prefer plant-based food whilst travelling, especially the fruits and vegetables that are in season in the place that you are visiting.
Eat Sustainable Fish & Meat
If you choose to continue to eat meat and fish, it’s important to ensure that they are from sustainable sources. Buying these products when you’re not sure if they were sourced sustainably can encourage practices that fast track production to meet demand. For example, the Amazon Rainforest is being cleared at an alarming rate to make space for cattle farms to be able to keep up with the amount of people that want beef. Choosing to only buy sustainably sourced products discourages these environmentally detrimental practices. This might be more difficult to do on holiday, but try and talk to locals, find out where you can buy sustainable food or talk to servers in restaurants. It’s important to spread the word about this subject, so don’t be afraid to start a conversation about it.
Read more in our article How to Reduce Your Impact on Wildlife when Travelling
Eat Local food
Perhaps one of the best things you can do to eat sustainably on holiday is to choose to eat local food. This will save on food miles, which is the amount of distance food travels from where it is sourced to where it is eaten. Typically, transportation is not eco-friendly, hence why it is important to keep food miles as low as possible. Not only is this beneficial for the environment, but it could also enhance your experience. It’s well known that fresh food tastes better, and this can be especially true in the amazing places you are travelling to. Eating the food locals eat can introduce you to new food you have never tried before and completely enrich your travelling experience.
Sustainability is About Making the Right Choices
It’s not always possible to be 100% sustainable whilst travelling, but a sustainable lifestyle is all about making the right choices where possible, and what you eat shouldn’t be any different. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new foods, immerse yourself in the culture and discover what truly makes a place special.
Kiwano can help you towards the first step of becoming a green traveller, by providing a list of green accommodations for you to stay at and giving you further tips on how to stay green as a traveller.