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Your Guide to Eating Sustainably When Travelling

10 September 2021

When travelling the world, it's important to take care of the places we visit so they can continue to be appreciated by generations to come. That's why we support making sustainable travel choices whenever possible. Minimising the environmental impact of a holiday maximises the positive impact for local communities, and helps to protect our beautiful world for the future.

One thing that's handy to be aware of on holiday is your food choices. It's so easy to make small changes that can have a big impact when choosing where and what to eat - and, it often means you get to try some pretty delicious food too. Win-win!

At Great Rail Journeys, we strive to offer sustainable food choices whenever possible. From the meals on our river cruises - made using fresh, local ingredients sourced from the regions we sail through - to hand-picked foodie excursions that highlight the best of local culture (truffle hunting followed by a chef-prepared pasta lunch overlooking Lake Como, anyone?), we pack our holidays with unforgettable experiences that showcase each destination's gastronomic heritage, in turn helping local communities and incomes thrive. But there's some simple steps we can all take to help.

Ready to do your bit and eat more sustainably when travelling? Here are a few easy changes you can make.

Eat Local

Sometimes, the options for eating out in a new destination can feel a little overwhelming, making those familiar chain restaurants we all recognise feel like old and trusted friends. But, it's always best to bypass the golden arches and head to a local independent café or restaurant instead. Firstly, eating local means supporting locals - putting your holiday spending money back into the region's economy rather than supporting giant corporations is something we can all get behind. Find a spot that showcases local ingredients and you'll save on food miles, too, meaning the ingredients haven't been imported and travelled hundreds of miles from where they were sourced. And, best of all, you get to indulge in authentic local cuisine; a comforting bowl of pho in Vietnam, tasty tapas in Spain or freshly-made sushi in Japan beats a chain restaurant burger every time.


A Bowl Of Pho


Avoid Plastic Packaging

Plastic waste is an increasingly recognised problem around the world, and it's not surprising. Plastic's everywhere, and its production is a leading cause of the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Not to mention that the plastic waste that ends up in landfill or the ocean can have completely devastating effects on local wild and marine life. Although it's difficult to eliminate plastic from our lives entirely, it helps to be aware of single-use plastics when eating on holiday. Little steps make a difference. If you want to grab a sandwich or wrap for the train, go for something freshly made rather than pre-packaged. If you fancy a quick snack, head to a local greengrocer for some fruit or a bakery for a delicious pastry rather than buying crisps or chocolate from a supermarket. And don't forget to pack a reusable tote bag so you don't end up with a suitcase overflowing with plastic shopping bags at the end of your trip! If you do use plastic, just make sure you recycle wherever you can.

Eat a Varied Diet

Incredibly, as much as 75% of the world's food supply comes from the same twelve plants and five animal species. A fantastic way to promote more varied agriculture around the world is to try new foods when you're on holiday. Don't play it safe - part of the beauty of travelling is discovering exciting, and often unusual, dishes that are completely unique to the area you're visiting. Whether you go all out and try insects in Asia (roasted crickets and fried tarantula are both popular delicacies) sample surstomming (a strong, fermented Baltic herring) in Sweden, or opt for très chic snails in white wine and garlic sauce in France, you might just discover your new favourite dish!




Go Plant Based

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it's an undeniable fact that the meat industry has a negative impact on the environment, with animal agriculture responsible for a great deal of the world's greenhouse gasses. Making the effort to include more plant-based meals in your diet means that you're actively contributing to reducing the emissions associated with meat eating. With that in mind, make sure you don't overlook the veggie and vegan options on a menu. Opting for a few meat-free or totally vegan meals when on holiday is a great starting point. It doesn't hurt that plant-based food is usually jam-packed with flavour too - think hearty chickpea curry in India, zingy papaya salad in Thailand or spicy stir-fried tofu in China.


Vegan Salad Bowl


Making sustainable choices when possible and focusing on the little changes you can make can really make a big difference on the environment. Really, it's all about focusing on fresh and locally sourced food options, which guarantees you'll enjoy some unforgettable dishes when travelling. What could be better than that?