Why Are Brits Ashamed to Ask for Doggy Bags in Restaurants?

Doggy bags are part and parcel of eating out in the US. But many British diners struggle with the idea of asking to take their leftovers home, something campaigners want to change. In the UK, it is a rarely heard request. And if one does have the audacity to ask for a doggy bag, it will probably be uttered under one’s breath or behind one’s hand.

A recent survey by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) showed 25% of diners were too embarrassed to ask for boxes, with 24% wrongly believing they were against health and safety policies.

Food historian Colin Spencer, who has never asked for a doggy bag, says it is not part of the culture. In addition, waste has been a symbol of wealth and nobility throughout history. “The waste went to feed others. It went to feed the kitchen staff and in the Middle Ages, what was left after the kitchen staff went to the poor and beggars waiting in the courtyard,” he says.


This reluctance may boil down to the British desire not to create a fuss, or it could be the belief that it is good manners to leave a few morsels on your plate.

It is debatable whether the various British cultural attitudes to doggy bags will be overcome to help reduce the amount of food thrown away. Though perhaps all it needs is a name change. In Britain, a doggy bag can be confused with a pooper-scooper, which deals with a different kind of waste altogether.

Source: BBC News

Image: Ethical Foods