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How to Eat Out whilst Helping the Planet!

A guide on how you can do your bit for the environment whilst also helping reduce the impacts of climate change!

climate change, meat, plant based,
climate change

In 2023, the impact of climate change is one of the biggest problems facing us as a society. I have tried to do my bit for the planet; I recycle my rubbish and shop second hand for my clothes instead of through fast fashion. However, what about eating out? In this piece, I will go through the top 5 budget friendly restaurants that are doing their bit for the planet. So that you can treat yourself at a reasonable price while helping the planet!

5. Taco Bell

If you like Mexican food, then Taco Bell is the right restaurant for you. This chain offers a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options for those looking to avoid meat in their diet. This is good for our planet as meat is climate resource heavy protein. They also commit to using sustainable palm oil in their cooking. Most of the brand’s packaging is either recyclable, reusable, or compostable. Taco Bell promises that all otheir packaging will be environmentally friendly by 2025. They have also announced a trial of Beyond Meat products, this is huge for such a large chain to trial the inclusion of such products. Here is the menu so you can see if anything tickles your fancy!

4. Subway

Next up, is sandwich giant Subway. This brand has put a lot of effort into making themselves climate friendly. Subway have developed ECO restaurants meaning they take responsibility for its chains social impact. It adopts measures to reduce their carbon footprint and they promote more sustainable consumption. Subway packaging is all recyclable and compostable. They have recently started to pilot energy conservation and food composting/waste diversion programs. According to their company website, Subway source all ingredients from suppliers that practice environmental stewardship and eco-friendly farming. Finally, they offer a Beyond Meatball Sub for anyone looking for a plant-based protein option. If you fancy a browse the menu is here

3. Starbucks

Coming in at number three is the coffee chain Starbucks. Regarding packaging and sourcing, Starbucks is a global leader in being climate friendly. They removed plastic straws from restaurants, cups are now recyclable, and they are striving to halve their emissions, waste and water usage by 2030. Furthermore, Starbucks source 99% of its coffee through 'ethical practices’ and they are one of the largest purchasers of externally certified “Fair Trade” coffee. Starbucks is another company that sells plant-based meat products. Further, they are hoping to have oat milk available nationwide to sit alongside their dairy alternatives, of soy, and almond milk. Here is Starbucks' menu if you want to take a look.


IKEA may seem like an unusual choice as it is primarily a furniture shop. However, their restaurants have been doing their bit for the planet. IKEA is classified as the sixth largest food chain in the world, a fact I found surprising! The company has launched a plant based and salmon meatball as more sustainable alternatives to their traditional and iconic beef version. The furniture titan also have ambitious plans to reduce food waste, to source from sustainable sources, to make healthier food and to promote animal welfare. All this by 2030. In 2018, IKEA launched their first “Better Food Programme” focusing on chicken. Having one of the world’s largest food chains taking such big climate friendly measures is amazing and will hopefully encourage other brands to follow in their footsteps. If you wish to peruse IKEA's menu it is here.

1. McDonalds

Finally, in at number one is McDonalds. Across all fronts, no fast-food giant has taken bigger steps to be more climate friendly. They are working to improve their food system, from energy conservation to recycling and sustainable agriculture. When it comes to food, McDonalds have changed their Filet-o-Fish sandwiches to all be Marine Stewardship Council certified for sustainability. Their coffee comes from 100% sustainable espresso beans. They follow United Nations guidelines to evaluate and implement their climate research. McDonalds features a vast number of plant-based options with their “McPlant” line-up proving successful. The company is one of two fast food giants that have joined the NextGen Cup challenge to find a renewable solution for their cups, which are one of their largest pieces of waste. They have also committed to minimize water, plastic, and energy usage. In 2020, McDonalds accomplished a climate friendly net-zero energy restaurant in Disney World. It creates enough renewable energy to cover 100% of its needs annually. It is currently used as a research hub to test solutions nationwide in order to reduce energy and water usage. Next time you fancy a Big Mac, you can feel guilt free and know you’re supporting a company that is doing their part to fight climate change! Craving a McDonalds? The menu is here.

So, Eat Out and Help Out?

While we are all trying to do our bit for the planet in our own way it is nice to find a balance between doing something you enjoy and not harming the planet at the same time. I hope this piece has given you an insight into what different food chains are doing to make themselves more climate friendly. With any luck, I will have given you some food for thought and not made you too hungry in the process!

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