Being environmentally friendly doesn’t mean we have to stop doing the things we enjoy; it just means changing the way we do certain things. These changes don’t even have to be particularly big ones either, just small alterations.
If you’re wondering how you can do your bit for the planet but still enjoy a good old fashioned barbecue, read on for advice and some of the more sustainable options available to you.
What’s the Most Environmentally Friendly Type of Barbecue?
First off, you’re probably wondering what’s the most environmentally friendly type of barbecue and fuel…
A gas bbq has more eco-friendly benefits than using a charcoal grill as they give off much less smoke. Propane is also more energy efficient than charcoal as it burns for less time which saves on carbon emissions. Gas barbecues can fire up quickly and be shut off just as fast, where as charcoal takes a while to reach cooking temperature and cool down after.
The gas canisters used to store the propane fuel are also reusable, so it adds to the overall sustainability of these types of barbecues.
Whilst charcoal barbecues aren’t necessarily as environmentally friendly, if you already have one that you don’t want to get rid of, or you have a hybrid, you can still make small adjustments such as using eco-friendly or high-quality charcoal that will be more efficient and last longer.
Even if your equipment isn’t as sustainable as you’d perhaps like, you can always make up for it with the food you cook. This can be one of the biggest differences.
Grass Fed Beef and Lamb
Although meat, particularly red meat, is a controversial subject when it comes to sustainability, Patrick Holden, the founding director of the Sustainable Food Trust has explained in his blog that “in many (if not most climates and regions) it is difficult to farm in a truly sustainable way without livestock.”. You can read more about what Patrick has to say here.
Patrick is an advocate of regenerative agriculture which involves raising livestock in a mixed farming system which in turn restores carbon to the soil. Mixing livestock with crops is the old fashioned way of doing things, but by going back to these old methods and restoring the carbon to the soil it will offset livestock emissions – one of the most popular issues that people bring up regarding meat consumption and climate change.
Grass fed beef and lamb will also utilise grass better, as it is a nutritious plant that we can’t eat or digest but grows everywhere. So by eating animals that can digest beef and lamb, we eat what they eat and get a double dose of quality nutrition. If you don’t want to give up meat, just switch to better quality products like grass fed, organic or free range.
Whilst there are a lot of things you can cook on a grill, beef, alongside other meats, is one of the most popular ingredients and an essential for most barbecues. For some beef based recipe inspiration, take a look at our recipe ideas here or for lamb recipes, click here.
Similar to beef and lamb, venison is also a sustainable option for meat eaters, plus it utilises grass and plants that humans can’t. It is in large supply as predators of the animal no longer roam the UK in large amounts, in fact the population of deer is routinely controlled to stop them eating too much vegetation in the wild and on farmlands. This article says venison could even be the perfect meat.
If you’re looking for a grilled venison meal to try out, we have this easy recipe for grilled venison loin with plum and ginger sauce that serves 4 people.
Unlike the majority of seafood, mussels and other bivalves can be sourced in a sustainable way. Farming mussels is done quite simply by lowering ropes into the sea, the mussels will then attach themselves to the ropes. The method of harvesting mussels does not cause destruction to coral reefs and it doesn’t lead to large amounts of bycatch (catching other species and fish unintentionally).
Mussels are a sustainable alternative to incorporating more protein in your diet. We have a few barbecued mussel recipes to try out, such as this one with anise and Turkish chilli or this recipe with a white miso butter broth.
Seaweed is sustainable and a superfood, it doesn’t need soil, fresh water, fertiliser, is fast growing and nutrient dense. Try adding it to your meals like we have in our recipe for grilled bream with tomato and seaweed salsa. The nutrients found in seaweed can help with gut health, thyroid function (via iodine) and some studies show it may improve your immune system and heart health.
Local and Organic Fruit and Vegetables
Supermarkets import fruits like apples from New Zealand because people want to eat them throughout the year, but if we ate seasonally, it would encourage more local sources of fruit and vegetables. Importing these foods from other countries produces a larger carbon footprint. Organic foods also mean less pesticide that can affect the long-term use of soil and farmland.
Beans, Legumes, Pulses, Lentils
These types of foods are a great source of protein, making them an alternative to meat for vegetarians and vegans. Healthy and sustainable, as they are widely available and don’t need much water to produce. For more vegetarian and vegan recipe ideas, click here.
As you can see, there are ways to make small changes just by being aware of the effect that different foods and equipment have on the ecosystem. Make use of all your food and try not to waste any. Swap in some of the alternative suggestions above, you’ll lessen your impact on the environment and you’ll improve your barbecue game.