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24 tips for an ethical Christmas – mostly about food

Christmas is a big moment for food lovers everywhere – but the food waste can leave you feeling a little less cheery.
  Published:  29 Aug 2017    |      5 minute read

It's true that our diets have a big impact on the environment all year round, but the scale often increases around the festive season. Fear not, we've collected 24 of the best eco-friendly Christmas food ideas to help you plan your day.

Want budget low-meat and meat-free Christmas meal ideas? How about delicious eco-friendly gifts? And top tips on what to do with your Christmas leftovers? This is your one-stop shop for a Christmas to be proud of.

1. Go eco-friendly this Christmas

Christmas is (apparently) about more than just food. Brush up on your eco-credentials by making sure your gifts, your tree and even your holiday activities are good for the planet.

Robins on boots

2. Create some homemade gifts

Channel your inner domestic god or goddess with these ultra-easy fermented homemade treats. If you've ever wanted a recipe for the easiest Christmas gift possible, we think we may have just found it...

Jars with fabric lids

3. Save food and save up for Christmas

Reduce your food waste this year and put the money you save in your Christmas savings pot. Love Food Hate Waste shows how much it all adds up.

Christmas savings pig

4. Shop local this Christmas

Impress everyone at the Christmas dinner table by shopping fresh and local. You'll be supporting your local economy, getting cheaper and fresher foods, and being really, really smug when everyone asks which supermarket your amazing veggies came from. Read our tips for a locally-sourced Christmas lunch.

Riverford organic farm shop 2002
Riverford organic farm shop
Credit: Ian Jackson

5. Get composting in December

Tuesday 5 December is World Soil Day. What better way to celebrate it than by making your very own soil? Cut your food waste, grow new herbs and veggies and give something back to your local environment. Just don’t try giving away your homemade soil as a Christmas present – it’s really hard to wrap.

Home composting
Home composting
Credit: Ben Rogers

6. Prepare for the new year

Let’s face it. No matter how carefully you buy, how safely you store and how intrepidly you eat, you’ll still be left with a mound of orange peels, tea-bags and nutshells come Boxing Day. Order your food waste recycling bin now – you won’t regret it come Boxing Day.

7. Try a wintery vegan recipe this month

Big piles of roast veg, steamy potato soups and filling lentil stews… *dribble*. Whether you're a veg-lover or just cooking for veggie or vegan friends, why not try one of these tasty looking winter vegan recipes?

Food and chopping
Credit: letterberry

8. Take action on Christmas food waste

How much water do we waste when we throw away a loaf of bread? How many pounds do we spend on throwaway salad? Hint: too much. Find out what you might be wasting.

Feeding the 5000 trafalgar square
Feeding the 5000, Trafalgar Square, November 2011
Credit: Adrian Brooks/Imagewise

9. Try some low-meat leftovers...

Looking for tasty, healthy, low meat recipes this Christmas? Whether you're lazy, impatient or terrible in the kitchen, these video recipes are great. 'Sexy’ cheese on toast has got to be a winner. Whether you’re looking to reinvent your sprouts or make your own mince pies, have a go at one of these vegetarian recipes.

Girl eating cheese sandwich

10. Have a food waste party

What would you do for a free lunch? Hubbub's pumpkin rescue, saw thousands of people enjoy a free bowl of soup and saved thousands of our little orange friends from being tossed out. If you’re inspired, why not plan your own food waste party to use up your leftovers in the New Year?

Garden lunch

11. Think about your turkey

How do you defrost a Turkey? How long should you cook it? And what are giblets anyway? Save yourself the trouble this year and ditch the Turkey. There are plenty of reasons to switch to a tastier, veggier dinner – these are just a few.

Turkeys in a group

12. Plan your Christmas leftovers

It’s never too early to start planning your culinary leftover delights – and these ideas for leftovers from BBC Good Food look amazing. Turkey samosa anyone?

A stew cooking at Basecamp

13. Reconsider your food waste facts

We all have our own preconceptions about what can and can’t be eaten – but some of those ideas are more ridiculous than others. Share this humorous take on food waste and help your friends rethink their habits and cut food waste at home.

14. Try out some new turkey recipes

In 1930 it took a week’s wage to buy a turkey. Nowadays, it's a lot lower, but that's no reason to leave any of it to waste. Check out Love Food Hate Waste's recipes for your leftover Christmas Turkey.

Turkey leftovers dinner

15. Going for a celebratory meal?

The next time you're hunting for a restaurant, choose a planet-friendly food venue. It's easy to choose a great place to eat out this December with the SRA's fantastic Food Made Good Diners' Guide. So you can eat with a clear conscience and leave with a full stomach.

Restaurant dinner

16. Play some vegetarian tunes!

Whether you’ve been left in charge of this year’s office entertainment or you’re hosting your own festive celebration, don't just stick the Pogues on repeat. Escape the same old suspects with a veg-themed playlist! Play one of these the next time you’re entertaining and let everyone know why.

17. Have a Christmas drink the no-meat way

Is that a burger in your beer? Or a trout in your Tequila? It might surprise you to find that most alcoholic drinks use animal products in their production. If you’re going for a meat-free drink you can order one from Vinceremos or check the label for the vegan sign before you buy.

Riverside Organic farm 2002
Riverside Organic Farm 2002
Credit: Ian Jackson

18. Don't waste your dinner

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, throw it all away, oh what fun it is to waste food on Christmas day...” If you want something else to sing about, save cash (and veg) this Christmas with these great tips from the Money Advice Service and Love Food Hate Waste. We love today’s waste-saving idea.

Christmas bells

19. Watch these kids tackle food waste

Watch out Tinie Tempah… If this musical take on food waste (complete with veggie microphones) doesn’t get you dancing – and thinking – you must be doing it wrong. Share this with your friends and get them singing along.

20. Ask where your food is from

So the family is going for a festive day out – but you’ll only be ordering healthy, sustainable meals for lunch, chock-full of plants and complemented by high quality meat. Organic, free range, fed on a diet of caviar… OK, maybe not that last bit. Oh dear. You probably won’t want to read this then.

burger with salad

21. Find out what fed your food

Is your turkey GM? Supermarkets across the UK are selling meat from animals fed on genetically modified feed. So even though your turkey is unmodified, it's food may well have been. Find out if your supermarket is feeding you the truth and take action with GM Freeze.

Soy harvest

22. Get hold of some tasty vegetables

Have you ever eaten a tomato that tasted like water in a vegetable outfit? It’s pretty likely it was grown in a hothouse, without natural warmth and sunlight to make them taste just right. Eating seasonally means that you get fresher, cheaper food and support the environment too. This calendar will help you choose seasonal food all year round.

Eat seasonably calendar
Eat Seasonably calendar
Credit: Eat Seasonably

23. Do some low-meat entertaining

By now, you might be ready to scream if you see another tiny party sausage. Resist the urge to feed the chef their own value-pack of cocktail sticks and point them to these unique vegetarian Christmas canape recipes. They’re healthy(ish) and planet friendly. If you are the chef, why not escape food-based injury and just cook these in the first place?

Smiling mince pies

24. Get some last-minute Christmas food ideas

You’ve got more food than you can shake a stick at – but no matter how many sticks you shake, it’s just not cooking itself. Get some last minute pointers to make the most of your veggies with these easy to follow vegetarian Christmas recipes, and help your Christmas dinner go with a bang.

Gingerbread on the run

Eating well isn't just for Christmas

Sign up for our Let's Eat Better Pledge. You'll receive free monthly tips on how to make the switch to tasty, sustainable food and actions – with less meat, less junk and more plants.