Carbon neutral dinner

Surprisingly, the most eco-friendly source of meaty protein I have encountered is also the lowest tech – mussels.


Les excellentes moules-frites de l’Assiette du marché, rue de la Monnaie à Lille. by Frédérique Voisin-Demery.

Most forms of animal proteins are known for not being great for the environment, taking up water, energy and farmed food to grow.

So having a carbon neutral meal can be quite a challenge, especially if you choose to have meat on your plate.

Mussels are commonly grown on lengths of rope that are hung just beneath the surface of the water. These animals take very little energy to farm, and even have the added bonus of capturing carbon dioxide in their shells.


The result of this lowered carbon footprint is 20 times lower than chicken, and less than 50 times lower than beef. So by eating a bowl of mussels once a week you can cut down on your carbon footprint. In future years these numbers may change, but as of right now these animals are one of the most energy-efficient ways of producing meat.


Moules frites à la belge. Miss Ningyou

So how to you cook some Moules Frites;

I am lazy so I use oven chips, or if you are so intended you can make your own with really anything that you want. Although I must say that chunky chips so I can dip them in the sauce.

If you are even more strapped for time many super markets offer pre-made mussels in wine or garlic sauce that can be quite yummy, just make sure to get some that are labeled as sustainable.

If you have a local fishmonger they will know where they were harvested and how they were grown.

Below is a simple recipe for moules mariniere;


  • 1kg/2lb 3oz fresh live mussels
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 150ml/5¼fl oz white wine
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 150ml/5¼fl oz double cream (or Dairy alternative)
  • small bunch flatleaf parsley, chopped
  • crusty bread, to serve (tiger bread being a personal favorite)


  1. Clean the mussels by thoroughly scrubbing them under plenty of running water, pulling away the ‘beards’ they have at the lips of the shells. Discard any broken mussels along with the ‘beards’, and any mussels that don’t close tightly when you tap them.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onions and garlic and cook over a medium heat until softened, but not coloured.

  3. Add the wine and turn up to a high heat. As the wine starts to boil, add the cleaned mussels and thyme to the pan. Turn the heat down to low.

  4. Put the lid on the pan and allow the mussels to steam. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, lifting the lid from time to time to check – you will know they are cooked when the shells have opened. Discard any mussels that remain closed.

  5. Add the double cream and cook for a another minute.

  6. Scatter with the chopped parsley and serve straightaway with crusty bread.

  7. Sit and enjoy

Let me know if you make this and if you enjoy it.



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