One of the benefits of traveling is that it changes your perspective. Travel has made us more aware of what we do environmentally. We are concerned about the carbon footprint we leave behind, and whether food comes from local sources. Given the lack of clean water and the destruction of forests around the world, we have become more environmentally conscious than we have ever been. We have seen entire villages suffer as a result of the perma frost melted and that was their only source of cooling. We live in an area where red tides and blue-green algae are an annual problem, mainly due to the runoff of pesticides and fertilizers from sugar plantations and homes. And we look with amazement when many people do not seem to care. That it is completely normal. We want to leave this planet better than before. We want to make sure that our children, grandchildren and their children have the same chances as us. Already in our lives, we have seen the destruction of wild places, and the overhunting, overfishing and over-tourism that plagues many parts of the world. On the other hand, we have seen remarkable progress from countries you least expect. Solar energy is used in Africa. Wind energy across Europe. And sustainable restaurants in rural areas of Peru. Many parts of the world, out of necessity, are leading the fees of sustainable living leaving many parts of us thrown and wasted behind.
Sustainable restaurants are something that many people have not yet heard of, let alone experienced. Sustainability is divided into three pillars: the environment, the economy and the community. I will explain them in more detail at the end of this article.
We’ve put together a list of some beautiful sustainable restaurants you want to try and support while traveling.
Azurmendi-Larrabetzu, Spain, Europe
This impressive sustainable restaurant is a feast for the stomach and eyes. The Azurmendi restaurant is embedded in the hillside surrounded by vineyards in the picturesque town of Larrabetzu, Spain. The greenhouse-like structure focuses on contributing to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations for Sustainable Development for the 2030 agenda. Some of these include sharing wealth and knowledge to eliminate inequality, using sustainable marine resources, implementing measures to action climate change and using renewable energy. Visitors to Azurmendi also have the opportunity to take a short tour of the property to be informed about the use of rainwater from the restaurant, solar panels, temperature control and how the restaurant can grow fresh vegetables and herbs throughout the year. Azurmendi’s commitment to sustainable development was recognized by the Sustainability Awards of the Sustainable Restaurant Association in 2018 and 2019.
- Environment: grows its own products, compost, upcycles, reduces waste, uses renewable energy.
- Economic: purchase of products from local farms.
- Community: Training community members on sustainable practices.
- Award: The Sustainable Restaurant Award 2014 & 2018 of the 50 Best Restaurants in the world
Loam: Galway, Ireland
Located in Galway, Ireland, Loam Restaurant is renowned for its modern approach to traditional cuisine. The owners, chef Enda McEvoy and Sinead Meacle, were one of the first established restaurants in Ireland that established close relationships with and source local organic farmers. This approach has been crucial in the world of sustainable restaurants and has paved the way for many other small businesses to follow in Loam’s footsteps. Loam has since continued its approach to sustainability by working on waste reduction, upcycle, compost and the use of renewable energy. The owners also provide their menu to indicate which products are currently available during a certain season. This helps to reduce their ecological footprint, as seasonal products can be purchased locally, while off-season products have to be transported to the region, which can lead to increased CO2 emissions. In terms of community engagement, Loam organizes cooking demonstrations to educate young people in the community on the basics of cooking and sustainability. Their overall efforts have paid off by gaining a considerable reputation in the community and in the rest of Ireland in the long term. Since their humble beginnings in 2014, Loam has been awarded a Michelin star for sustainability and the Best Restaurant in Ireland award by the Restaurant Association.
- Environment: reduce waste, compost, recycling, renewable energy.
- Economic: local products
- Community: organizes cooking demonstrations for young people in the community in collaboration with Slow Food Ireland
- Award: Best Restaurant in Ireland by the Restaurant Association and a Michelin star for sustainability.
Relæ-København, Denmark, Europe
Relæ is the perfect place to visit if you are walking through the streets of København, Denmark. This remarkably sustainable restaurant is known for its attention to detail that fully encompasses the three pillars of sustainability. From interior design that mimics minimalism and waste-free products to food that comes 90% -100% from biodynamic farms. Relæ even reuses the remaining drinking water to clean the restaurant at the end of the day. Their dedication is impressive, with chefs visiting a farm in the remote town of Nørrebro each morning to harvest vegetables and collect fresh milk. The restaurants ‘ hard work paid off by winning a Sustainable Restaurant Award two years in a row in 2015 and 2016. Their ecological approach fascinates newcomers and their modern approach to traditional Danish makes them come back for more.
- Environment: less water consumption, less waste, renewable energy.
- Economic: sources produce locally, participate in fair trade purchases for goods not produced locally
- Community: food prices are low, so the restaurant is more accessible to low-income people
- Award: Sustainable Restaurant Award 2015 & 2016 awarded by the 50 Best Restaurants in the world
Schauenstein Castle in Fürstenau, Zwitserland
Schloss Schauenstein is a must if you are visiting Fürstenau, Switzerland. Set in a quaint hotel in the Swiss countryside, the fairytale setting alone is enough to impress visitors. When visiting the farm, guests will automatically notice how integrated the environment is in the estate. The restaurant is proud that about 30% of its food comes from its own orchards and gardens. Chef Andreas Caminada also works closely with local organic farmer Marcel Foffa, whose greenhouses and vegetable farms are just one kilometer from the restaurant. Schloss Schauenstein also recycles, composts and uses 100% renewable energy. In 2015, the restaurant even founded Fudaziun Uccelin, a foundation aimed at educating young members of the community and “promoting ambitious chef and service talents in the gastronomic industry with the long-term goal of securing highly qualified and passionate professionals”.
- Environment: rarely serves meat, sources produce castle grounds, reduces energy consumption, non-food waste policy
- Economic: local sources supporting the multiplier effect
- Community, founded for the Fundziun Uccelin Foundation
- Award: The Sustainable Restaurant Award 2019 of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant
Le Manoir aux Quat’saisons in Oxfordshire, England, Europe
The last sustainable restaurant on our list is located in the 15th century mansion in the picturesque town of Oxfordshire, England. Le Manoir aux Quat’saisons was opened 35 years ago by the president of the Association of Sustainable Restaurants, Raymond Blanc. This French-style restaurant received two Michelin stars in just one year of its operation; and has maintained their status in the decades since. In addition to this enormous achievement, The Manoir aux Quat’saisons is notoriously sustainable. The hotel is set on acres of gardens that house up to 90 types of vegetables and 70 types of herbs. These fresh products are processed in the ever-changing seasonal menu alongside locally produced meat and dairy products. In addition, the establishment follows other sustainable practices such as the use of renewable energy, waste reduction and reduction of water consumption.
- Environment: reduces waste, reduces water consumption, grows its own herbs and vegetables
- Economic: sources of meat from local farms to promote the multiplier effect
- Community: educates the community about sustainability and agriculture