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On the menu of a British restaurant: carbon footprint

Switching to a plant-based diet is one of the most effective ways for an individual to reduce their carbon footprint, say experts at the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The menu at The Canteen in the South West of England doesn’t just let diners know how much a dish costs. They can also monitor the carbon footprint.

The pakora of carrot and beetroot with yogurt sauce is responsible for only 16 grams of CO2 emissions. The aubergines with a miso and harissa sauce with tabbouleh and Zaatar toast provided 675 grams of carbon dioxide.

As customers weigh their options, the Bristol vegetarian restaurant’s menu features a comparison to a dish it doesn’t serve: the emissions of a UK-made burger.

“Three kilos for a burger, wow! I can’t believe it,” exclaimed Enyioma Anomelechi, a 37-year-old eater sipping a beer outside in the sun.

The menu states that the emissions of a real beef burger are “10 times the amount of its vegan alternative”.

The carbon footprint of businesses and consumers is becoming increasingly critical as countries strive to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

In July, The Canteen became the first restaurant to agree to put its carbon footprint on its menu as part of a campaign led by UK vegan campaign organization Viva!

The restaurant’s manager, Liam Stock, called the move a way to “see what we’re doing; to understand and improve ourselves.”

According to figures from the British government, the average British person has an annual carbon footprint of more than 10 tonnes.

Britain has set itself the ambitious goal of reducing harmful emissions by 78 percent by 2035, compared to 1990 figures, in order to meet its international commitments on climate change.

‘Climate emergency’

Switching to a plant-based diet is one of the most effective ways for an individual to reduce their carbon footprint, experts at the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in April.

The livestock industry replaces CO2-absorbing forests with land for grazing and soybean cultivation for animal feed. The animals also belch massive amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Whether diners will let the carbon footprint of their ordering choices impact remains to be seen, but Stock said the menu innovation has sparked interest and support.

“If you’re a big chain restaurant in England, it’s the law that you have to have calories on the menu,” he said.

In July, The Canteen became the first restaurant to agree to put its carbon footprint on its menu as part of a campaign led by

In July, The Canteen became the first restaurant to agree to put its carbon footprint on its menu as part of a campaign led by UK vegan campaign organization Viva!

“But a lot of people say… they’re more interested in carbon.”

While Anomelechi noted the “huge” difference in emissions between a hamburger and other dishes, he said he didn’t necessarily want to be burdened with knowing the calorie count or carbon footprint of his order.

“When I eat out, I just want to enjoy myself,” he added, noting that he would be more likely to change his way of doing the grocery shopping.

Laura Hellwig, campaign manager at Viva!, said the carbon footprint figure should become mandatory.

“We are in a climate emergency and consumers need to be able to make informed choices,” the activist said.

According to her, “most people would actually choose the planet” when faced with a comparison between the carbon footprint of a meat meal and a vegan dish.

‘Crib to store’

Stock said he knew his restaurant’s dishes would have a low carbon footprint, as most of his ingredients are sourced regionally.

“We didn’t have to change anything,” he said, admitting some surprises, such as learning that imported spices increase emissions.

To calculate the footprint of the dishes, The Canteen sent its recipes and the origin of the ingredients to a specialist company called MyEmissions.

It is able to calculate the CO2 impact from “cradle to store”, taking into account agriculture, processing, transport and packaging.

“If I had to choose between two dishes, maybe depending on how hungry I was, I might pick the one with a smaller footprint,” said Nathan Johnson, a 43-year-old diner at the restaurant.

That day he opted for the chef’s salad, good for 162 grams of carbon.

Another diner, 29-year-old Emma Harvey, also supported the idea of ​​increasing awareness of carbon footprints “and the ethical effects of the food we eat”.

“We need to incorporate things (like) that into everyday life,” she said.


Restaurant menu design can impact the environmental footprint of dining


© 2022 AFP

Quote: On the menu of a UK restaurant: Carbon footprint (2022, August 10) retrieved on August 10, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-menu-uk-restaurant-carbon-footprint.html

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