Low and zero waste food outlets are starting to appear across the world to help tackle food waste. Here are two outlets who are making strives to make the world a brighter and cleaner place.

In today’s world, where hunger and environmental issues persist, an alarming problem remains largely unnoticed – food waste. Each year, a staggering amount of edible food is discarded, leading to significant economic, social, and environmental consequences. That’s where zero waste dining comes in.

Joseph Harrop, General Manager at Magic Hat Café, Newcastle, said: “Globally a third of all food produced ends up in a landfill. So I do think it’s one of the big things which we could all address together to make the planet more sustainable for us, for our neighbours, but also people on the other side of the world.”

However, a remarkable revolution is taking place within the culinary world – the rise of zero-waste restaurants.

​​V or V in Kelham Island, as the name would suggest, is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant based in Sheffield with a fine dining twist.

Using food waste in a variety of innovative ways to create their ever-changing small plates, the menu is creative and full of interesting ingredients- some of which we had never even heard of before!

Fancy some smoked kohlrabi with burnt pineapple tigers’ milk, apple marigold and sea purslane? Or maybe they can tempt you with some yakitori grilled daikon, umeboshi cream, kombu buckwheat and crispy organic egg. Upon looking at the V or V menu you may feel like you are reading a foreign language- but all these dishes could not be more local to Yorkshire if they tried. They allow unique and seasonal vegetables to shine.

The menu claims that: “Where possible, we use organic and seasonal produce from organic pantry farms in Yorkshire, Sheffield honey and local mushrooms from Autumn Harvest and Seven in Neepsend. Raw local chocolate from Buillon Sheffield and black truffles foraged by Wiltshire Truffles. We forage locally or use fresh wild ingredients from Bello and we use Unfiltered Honest Toil olive oil.”

By only using what is in season, the restaurant is sustainable by reducing the amount they contribute to air miles caused by shipping over ingredients from elsewhere.

The owner explained how they take their customers’ favourite flavours and sauces and adapt their dishes to accommodate what is available at the time. For example, their barbecued Yorkshire asparagus is new to the menu as it is now in the season but is served with a popular sauce from a previous dish.

They also make many of their ingredients in-house. Their burrata is made under the same roof you dine at but trust us- it is out of this world. Served with sweet local strawberries, it really showcases the skill of the chef.

Burrata, made in house

For one of their most popular dishes, the use of waste is paramount to its delicious flavours. Wild garlic and onion flatbreads served with smoked moutbal, house ferments and pickles and waste herb oil is a dish that showcases their green thumb. The house ferments and pickles are made using cucumbers and cabbage that have gone off and the oil is made using herbs that will not go to use. This may sound slightly gross, but the tastes are incredible.

Wild garlic and onion flatbreads served with smoked moutbal, house ferments and pickles and waste herb oil

The restaurant always strives to improve its sustainability and the new menu includes a few ingredient changes which means they have further increased sourcing of local products.

Another joint located in Sheffield that has implemented some innovative techniques to reduce waste is South Street Kitchen in Park Hill. Their Middle Eastern inspired menu is entirely vegan, all par eggs and halloumi that are offered on a few dishes. They have implemented a unique concept called ‘smaller portions’. On their menu they state: “We are always keen to reduce food waste so if you prefer to only have one slice of toast rather than two with any of our ‘on toast’ dishes, just let your server know and we will reduce the price by 10%”.

This unique idea is a brilliant way to prevent scrap being left and thrown in the bin by those with a lesser appetite and something we had not seen before at Behind the Bite. They also offer up take out containers for any leftovers without being asked, encouraging people to take home the rest of their meal for later.

South Street Kitchen, BBQ aubergine and slaw sandwich

From the other side of the world, an organic brunch restaurant in Beijing, China is doing zero waste in their own ways. 

The restaurant is located opposite the market. The gate is green and has no sign. You need to ring the doorbell for someone to get you. Feels like it’s hidden in the city. The restaurant’s organic ingredients come from the owner’s farm in the suburbs of Beijing, and even the sauces are from organic food brands. 

The restaurant and the farm were started 17 years ago by husband and wife, Shan En and Lejen Chen. They have acres of organic vegetables, traditional breed chickens and pigs.

Tutu’s Plastic Reduction Life, an environmental blogger, said: “The coolest thing about this restaurant is its toilet. The toilet is in the small yard of the Café, on the toilet door, you can see ‘Composting Toilet’. The sink without a faucet switch needs to be stepped on to get water. In this way, water consumption can be well controlled, and the waste of water can be avoided. The toilet is also a tankless toilet. The water in the sink will eventually flow to the toilet for a very good cycle. And the amazing thing is that the bathroom doesn’t smell at all.”

zero waste toilet

The next time you dine out, maybe consider seeking out a zero waste restaurant near you. Join the growing community of individuals who believe that great food and sustainable practices can go not far into the future.