Since moving to London two years ago I’ve become increasingly aware of the mob of adverts promoting takeaway food. They’re plastered on bus stops, on the tube and on the various bikes and mopeds whizzing around the streets in the evenings. Whether it’s Just Eat, Deliveroo or Uber Eats, food is never more than a few clicks away. I have no issue with sharing a takeaway during a movie night with a group of friends, but I’m concerned that the saturation of these adverts is causing us to view cooking as a chore. Once that happens it’s easy to switch from viewing takeaways as an occasional treat to a regular necessity.
So what effect is this persistent advertising having on our wallets? And with the recent Uber Eats protest in London, perhaps there are other costs we should bear in mind.
The Monetary Cost
One of the main themes the adverts employ is the idea that because we’re working so hard, we deserve to take it easy when it comes to making food. You can see below the Uber Eats advert that greeted me when I recently caught the tube to work. Two days later it had been replaced with an ad for Just Eat!
These adverts tell us that we’re busy, we’re important and our time is too valuable to waste on food preparation. But how much are we paying for the convenience?
In 2017 the Mirror reported that the average person in the UK spends £80 a month on takeaways (rising to £107 for those living in London). Other studies have suggested this spend is significantly higher for those of us in the 25-34 age bracket.
Takeaways are fine in moderation, but the problem comes when they start to become a habit. I’ve had housemates consistently order takeaway dinners upwards of three times a week. This reliance on takeaway food appears to be the new norm.
Cooking at home will save you money and with minimal extra effort you can create additional lunches or dinners from the same batch. Alternatively if you really don’t have time to cook a meal from scratch, why not purchase a ready meal? For the same price as a £15 takeaway you could likely purchase around five. One of my former housemates spent a small fortune on Dominoes pizzas after nights out, before realising that having a stash of frozen pizzas in the house meant he could save both money and time.
The Environmental Cost
In my shared house our kitchen bin frequently ends up filled to the brim with takeaway packaging. The multiple food containers and bags create significantly more waste than cooking from scratch. There’s been a big focus this year around the horrors of the plastic straw and to a lesser extent plastic bottles and coffee cups. However, those pale in comparison to the amount of packaging that comes with a takeaway, much of which is not recyclable. This is in addition to the carbon footprint from the delivery vehicle.
The Human Cost
Uber has been surrounded by scandals of late, from court cases and strikes around employment rights to a ban on operating in London. Many of the issues at the centre of these scandals apply to other delivery companies as well.
At the time of writing (Jan 2019) Uber drivers are not classed as proper employees. This means they’re not entitled to the minimum wage, are on zero hour contracts and receive no holiday entitlement or sick pay. This leaves the drivers with no job security while business is booming for the companies themselves. By purchasing a takeaway you’re voting with your wallet to keep this imbalance in place.
The Health Cost
With levels of obesity on the rise there’s also a health cost associated with a reliance on takeaways. Takeaway food is almost always more unhealthy than a home cooked meal. By putting someone else in control you lose the ability to regulate the sugar, salt and fat content. This could have health implications further down the line, such as increasing your risk of developing diabetes.
It was recently announced that from 25th February 2019 junk food advertising will be banned across London’s TFL network. It will be interesting to see how takeaway adverts now adapt to fit these new regulations.
Takeaways can be a fantastic way to experience restaurant quality meals in the comfort of your own home. They allow us to taste flavours from around the world and may even provide inspiration for your own homemade creations. But takeaways are also a luxury and it’s important that we view them as such, rather than buying into the adverts that say we deserve to eat them regularly because we lead such busy lives.
Are you a fan of takeaways or do you prefer home cooked meals? Let me know in the comments!