Is Green Fast Food Even Possible?
Fast food is seen as inherently counter to the concept of green cuisine, and the actions of the largest chains to try and clean up their incredibly polluting supply chains can often come off as greenwashing.
Such is fast food’s reputation that the Slow Food Movement was developed in part to protest the launch of a McDonald’s restaurant in Rome near the historic Spanish Steps, which for Carlo Petrini was a step too far that risked losing local traditional cuisine.
Ostensibly, we are seeing signs of a change, largely in response to consumer demands for sustainability. However, an increase in vegan takeaway items and cause marketing does not make a fast food restaurant green.
As has been seen with Michelin Green Star restaurants, true sustainability filters through every single business decision, from which farms produce comes from to the wholesale aprons waiters and chefs wear.
In fine dining, restaurateurs have a lot more control over the entire process, from the food they serve, the portions, limiting waste and every other tool they have at their disposal to create a closed system.
Takeaway food is far less a meal and more of a product to be consumed in the eyes of many customers, and with that comes a different set of expectations and consistencies.
This is part of the reason why a lot of bigger fast food chains cannot be truly green, but does it necessarily mean that green fast food is inherently an oxymoron?
In short, no. Many, if not most of the principles that go into creating a sustainable dining experience can create a sustainable takeaway experience.
Besides obvious swaps such as switching to sustainable recyclable packaging materials, some takeaway restaurants find ways to decrease their waste and carbon footprint.
This includes curry houses that serve food in reusable tiffin containers that can easily be returned, seasonal menus that provide takeaway food that uses local fresh produce, and swapping out meat for less carbon-intensive alternatives.