“Three kilos for a hamburger. I can’t believe it!” Reviewing the menu of a restaurant in Bristol in the United Kingdom, said Anioma Anomelechi, which has decided to incorporate the carbon footprint of each of its dishes. From the end of July, vegetarian restaurant The Canteen has decided to inform its customers about the environmental impact of the food selected from the menu.
The goal is “to see, understand and improve what we’re doing,” explains its owner, Liam Stock. But the remedy does not reassure everyone. Sitting with his friends on the terrace, Anomelechi, 37, sips his beer as he weighs how good each dish is for the environment.
Pakoras – vegetables fried in chickpea flour – carrots and beetroot with yogurt sauce release only 16 grams of carbon dioxide. Instead, serve eggplant with miso sauce and every bit Add up to 675 grams of Tabbouleh and Toast with Spices – a North African Sauce.
“Eating a burger made in the UK could generate 3,050 kilograms of carbon equivalent,” he says. restaurant on its menu, stating that it has “10 times the amount of its vegetarian option”.
It’s a “huge” difference, Anomelecchi acknowledged, though he says he goes to restaurants to enjoy himself and doesn’t know the calorie or carbon footprint of what he eats. “But if I can have that information in supermarkets, if I will change more”, my way of consumption, he assured AFP.
Experts from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in April that switching to a plant-based diet is one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Venue owner Stock says diners will let the carbon footprint factor into their orders, but menu innovation has sparked interest and support.
“In England if you’re a large chain restaurant, the law requires you to list the calories[on the menu],” he explains. “But many people say (…) that they are more interested (in knowing the carbon footprint),” he says.
For Laura Hellwig, British vegetarian charity Viva! The director of campaigns, carbon footprint data should be mandatory. “We are in a climate emergency and consumers need to be able to make an informed choice,” says the 30-year-old activist.
In his opinion, “most people” would choose less environmentally harmful foods if they could compare the carbon footprint of meat-based diets and vegetarian dishes.
Live! launched a national campaign to persuade restaurants to step up their climate change awareness efforts. First the canteen accepted. “We didn’t have to change anything,” Stock explains. To calculate the carbon footprint of the dishes, the restaurant sends its recipes and the location where it receives its ingredients to the specialty company MyEmissions. It is able to calculate the carbon impact from ‘cradle to store’ taking into account cultivation, processing, transportation and packaging. “If I’m torn between two dishes, and based on my appetite, I can choose the one with the lowest carbon footprint,” says Nathan Johnson, 43.
That day, he chose the chef’s salad, which had the equivalent of 162 grams of carbon, on the menu.