How to have an eco-friendly Christmas dinner and use your leftovers

Believe it or not, your diet could be your most significant impact on the planet. It doesn’t matter if you’re vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian, reducing your impact means sourcing sustainably and locally. The popularity of avocado’s in recent years has led to a dramatic pressure on farmers. Forests are being torn down to make way for avocados – not to mention the enormous carbon footprint from importing them from Mexico. So, keep in mind that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ type of food, just sustainable and non-sustainable.

This Christmas, we want to help you eat the most eco-friendly Christmas dinner yet. There’s a lot of options out there, and we’re going to take you through them course by course. No matter what diet you follow, there will be something for you to enjoy.

Eco-friendly starters

While many people may not realise this, meat tends to have a higher carbon footprint, mainly for the process it goes through to be put on our plates. It’s why reducing your meat consumption can have a positive impact on carbon emissions. While we know becoming a vegetarian isn’t for everyone, we do suggest that having a ‘meat-free’ day every week is a positive step. So, in keeping with this tradition, we’re going to suggest that you keep your Christmas starters meat-free and enjoy one of these tasty eco-friendly Christmas dinner starters instead:

Eco-friendly mains

You may already be thinking, “surely the only main for Christmas is a turkey?” – well we beg to differ. The best way to make your main course eco-friendly this Christmas is to sustainably source it. Local butchers will be able to provide you with local meat selections so there will be plenty to choose from.

When it comes to your vegetables, make sure you’re buying local produce. If you had a choice between buying parsnips from Belgium or from Frank the Farmer down the road – who would you think is the more environmentally friendly option? Of course, it’s Frank! Not only the carbon footprint associated with importing the parsnip, but the reduction in the packaging used to transport. Frank can pop his parsnips in a crate and take them directly to the farmers market where you can use your reusable bag to take it home – perfect!

Eating seasonal vegetables is also a great way to make sure you have an eco-friendly Christmas dinner. At this time of year, you want to be buying the following for your Christmas dinner:

  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Cranberries (to make your own cranberry sauce with)

Of course, you may wish to have other vegetables too, but these are the most eco-friendly Christmas dinner options out there.

Eco-friendly desserts

When it comes to desserts, it’s relatively easy to make an eco-friendly decision. Whether you’re making a Christmas pudding, yule log or a trifle, it’s all about sourcing the right ingredients. A lot of desserts contain similar ingredients – fruits, nuts and milk.

Many people will already choose to stay away from cow’s milk and opt for a non-dairy option, but if you’re substituting it for almond milk, you may be doing more damage to the planet. Almonds have a considerable impact on the environment, so this year, purchase a more sustainable option like oat milk. Getting the right milk gives you the perfect ingredient to help make all the traditional Christmas desserts your sweet tooth can handle.

Of course, a Christmas pudding has lots of different nuts in it, and you might be tempted to throw some almonds in there too. However, when you look at the nuts that are in season in December, chestnuts are the best option.

What to do with your eco-friendly Christmas dinner leftovers

Now you’ve prepared your eco-friendly Christmas dinner, it’s time to find ways to get the most from it. Food waste, if it was a country, would have the third-highest emissions rate in the world. It’s one of the largest challenges we face in the UK, which is why this Christmas, we want to make the most of our leftovers.

One of the most popular leftover items is brussels sprouts – we’ve noticed them hiding under leftover potatoes! But this brussels sprouts pancake recipe is the perfect way to reuse them on boxing day and prevent them from ending up in the bin!

There aren’t many food items more British than the roast potato, it’s a timeless classic. Sadly, it also tends to get wasted on Christmas day – simply because there are better items on the plate to fill up on and we all want to save room for dessert! This recipe uses the almost certain-to-be leftover brie from the cheeseboard and roasties (plus truffles if you happen to have them too!).

Finally, possibly the most popular leftover recipe, bubble and squeak. Grab all your leftover veg (especially those roasties) and throw whatever meat you have leftover in there for good measure and make a British classic. There are so many ways to make this dish, so we’ll let you explore these recipes and decide which one is best for yourself!

Do you have any more leftover creations that you’ve discovered over the years? Share your recipes in the comments below and help others to reduce their food waste this Christmas!

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