While we know that action and advocacy for the environment is a lifelong commitment that shouldn’t be reduced to one day, Earth Day exists as an annual reminder for us to check ourselves. With recent controversial documentaries such as Netflix’s Seaspiracy taking a bold stand against the consumption of seafood, the war against plastics sparking online debates, it’s easy to just give up and let someone else fight the fight.
But don’t fret. Restaurants can lead the fight against climate change, and it doesn’t always have to be executed by drastic measures. In fact, restaurants in Asia are already leading the charge by making ingredient swaps and committing to better their processes. Every meal is an opportunity to do good for ourselves and for the planet. From chefs flexing their creativity to owners setting the tone for better practices, everyone can play a part. Here are three ways to get started.
1. Swap a meat ingredient for a plant-based or vegetarian option
What’s the big deal about meat consumption? Simply put, the environmental footprint — the land, water, and energy needed to grow crops and raise livestock — and greenhouse gas emissions from meat production far outweigh that of vegetarian and plant-based produce. While it’s hard to sway the public opinion and practice of giving up meat consumption entirely, restaurants can start by swapping one or two meat items on their menu for plant-based alternatives.
OmniPork Ramen from Green Common in Hong Kong
All across Asia, plant-based alternatives are popping up. There’s Impossible Foods and Beyond Burger that’s famous the world-over, but also local favourites such as OmniPork in Hong Kong, and newcomer Tindle in Singapore.
Your restaurant marketing team can bank on timely opportunities to shout about these plant-based alternatives with specials and promotions during Earth Day, Earth Hour, or even cultural festivities such as Jay Week in Thailand.
2. Put a spotlight on local farmers and produce
“Farm to table” isn’t just a trending movement of the early 2010s. Restaurants are now seeing the benefits of growing their own food and sourcing from the community and close neighbours. Not only does purchasing locally support local ecosystems, it also ensures less travel time between the food and your kitchen, contributing to less air pollution.
As more consumers care more about where their food is sourced and how it impacts the environment, give them more reasons to visit your restaurant by championing local produce. Put a spotlight on up and coming urban farmers and collaborate with plant hobbyists.
The Disappearing Duck from Haoma in Bangkok, inspired by free-range ducks running wild in farms.
Haoma in Bangkok is a great example of this. Serving Neo-Indian cuisine, they grow vegetables, herbs and fish at their restaurant, as well as source from local suppliers who raise, grow, or catch their own produce. They also have a community-share farm in Chiang Mai, cutting the need for international air travel.
3. Make your waste work for you
Not sure what to do with waste? Firstly, examine whether what you’re throwing out deserves to meet the waste bin. Experienced chefs know not to waste ingredients and would strive to use every part of an ingredient, be it for stock, jellies, dressing, or garnishes. It’s a chance for chefs to flex their creativity. For restaurant marketers, original ideas that are also sustainable make great stories.
Kausmo in Singapore is an example of a restaurant that champions the use of “ugly” ingredients. Their dishes feature secondary grades of meat, or parts of fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be discarded just because it doesn’t look conventionally good — but are actually good enough to consume.
Local Trevally, Radishes & Grilled Cabbage Brodo from Kausmo in Singapore
Restaurants can also consider offering deals during the closing or final hours of their operations to reduce food waste from what’s leftover. Last year, Chope partnered with DBS to launch Last Hour Deals, where diners get a discount when they dine in at participating restaurants in the final hours.
Have a plant-based menu or promotion you’d like to market to diners? Get in touch with our team to find out how Chope’s marketing solutions can work for you.