Fast-Casual Finally Solves Its Waste Problem: Meet 2 NYC Eateries Leading The Way

September 13, 2017

Summer 2017 was nothing short of amazing for New Yorkers trying to find vegan-friendly and environmentally-responsible fast-casual dining options.

sustainable fast food

As the third most vegan-friendly city in the United States, New York City is proving to be a safe haven for both plant-based restaurants and sustainable practices. Recently, a couple of restaurants have cropped up in an effort to convince this fast-paced city that cruelty-free, fast-casual dining can be delicious as well as environmentally responsible.

First up, TYME.

Restaurateur Phil Winser, the mind behind the trendy Lower East Side restaurant The Fat Radish teamed up with a former Burger King executive Felipe Hallow to open a new vegan-friendly and sustainable fast food company called TYME.

Launched early summer 2017, TYME is a fast-food restaurant that seeks to change the way Americans define and consume fast-casual food. TYME offers a broad range of vegan-friendly dining options in reusable plastic jars. Mimicking the Pinterest-obsessed phenomena of mason jar lunches, TYME has created a series of portable dining options that are full of whole grains, vegetables, and sauces. The jars are $10.00 each and come in a range of flavors including Soba, Carrot Hummus, Falafel, Italian, and more.

sustainable fast food

If the idea of using a plastic container seems to be the opposite of practicing sustainability, think again. TYME offers a $1.00 off incentive for customers who return their plastic jars so TYME can reuse them. This restaurant also composts the biodegradable forks and leftover food, so customers are encouraged to return these items to the restaurant as well.

However, TYME is not the only restaurant in New York City espousing both the vegan and environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

Nestled in the Murray Hill neighborhood of midtown Manhattan, Local Leaf is a vegan-friendly and locally sourced restaurant committed to minimizing waste.

Local Leaf achieves this by purchasing second-tier produce from local farms and repurposing fruit and vegetable trim from Local Leaf’s kitchen in creative ways when creating house-made salad dressings, juices, and infused beverages. This restaurant also donates unsold food to area charities at the end of each business day. Local Leaf only partners with companies that uphold reputable standards such as paying workers a living wage and making environmentally conscious decisions.

sustainable fast food

Unfortunately, there are many vegan fast-food restaurants—especially chains—that do not see the importance of composting, recycling, or using biodegradable packaging for their food options. These restaurants are just trying to tap into a growing population for monetary reasons and nothing more. While it’s awesome to have so many dining options, the vegan lifestyle is not just about improving the standard of health or saving the animals. It is also about having a positive impact on the well-being of our planet.

Let’s keep putting pressure on the restaurant industry to embrace sustainability as a part of the fast-food dining culture. When checking out new restaurants, do not be afraid to inquire about their waste minimization strategy. If they do not participate, try to inform them of the environmental benefits of reducing waste. If they do take steps to eliminate material and food waste, be sure to thank them for their dedication and spread the word about their practices!

What is your favorite environmentally-responsible fast-casual restaurant?

Also by Olivia: Free People And PETA Collaborate To Create Dreamy Vegan Clothes & Accessories

3 Ultra-Cool Vegan Chicago Restaurants That Deserve A Spot On Your Bucket List

Related: Found: 9 LA Restaurants With Ridiculously Delish Vegan Fare You *Must* Try

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Olivia Parr is the founder of Caramel Coated Wellness, a whole-food, plant-based food blog and personal chef business based in North Carolina. After reading Food Over Medicine and The China Study, she decided to get more serious about her interest in helping people overcome health issues with plant-based food. Olivia graduated from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies with a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition.


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