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Restaurant’s menu shows environmental cost of every meal

"All dishes feature the total carbon emissions generated, per serving, in grams."

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Vegetarian restaurant adds carbon emissions to its menu to show the environmental cost of every meal. (Tom Wren via SWNS)

By Lauren Beavis via SWNS

A restaurant is the first in Britain to add carbon emissions to its menu - to show the environmental cost of every meal.

The Canteen in Bristol wants to help their customers stay informed about the global impact of their food choices.

Each meal listed on its menu feature its carbon footprint as well as its ingredients and price.

The footprint includes the distance which ingredients travelled, seasonality of ingredients and emissions during production.

Currently the meal with the highest carbon footprint is vegan dish Miso and harissa aubergine, za'atar brittle, courgette baba ganoush & tabbouleh.

It costs £8.50 ($9.85) and measures 674g CO2.

Vegetarian restaurant adds carbon emissions to its menu to show the environmental cost of every meal. (Tom Wren via SWNS)
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The lowest on the menu is sharing plate of beetroot and carrot pakora with coriander yoghurt - measuring just 16g CO2.

It all started when The Canteen were approached by UK's leading vegan charity, Viva!

Viva! asked if it wanted be part of an initiative that sees the carbon footprint of meals calculated and evident to see on its menu.

"Our head chef, Matt, went through the whole menu - and it was then sent off to MyEmissions - a food carbon footprint calculator," said Anna Blightman, Canteen marketing manager.

"We were all waiting in anticipation, and the results were a complete eye-opener.

"The reception has been incredible and really positive, with many customers asking, 'why doesn't everyone do this!'"

The menu reveals striking comparisons between different dishes, stating at the top: "All dishes feature the total carbon emissions generated, per serving, in grams.

"For reference, eating just one UK produced beef burger can generate as much as 3,050 g CO2 - the equivalent of driving the average UK car up to 10 miles - 10 times the amount of its vegan alternative."

Next to the carbon footprint calculation of each dish, is also a letter categorizing which brand the meal falls under.

Another inspiration for the sustainable initiative was sparked back in April, when the UK government decided English restaurants with more than 250 employees must display calorie information for each meal on their menus.

"There was a campaign being led at the time called 'Carbon not calories', and because we have a lot less than 250 employees, we weren't inclined to include calories - but we decided to get the conversation going and take a leap of faith," Anna said.

Laura Hellwig, Managing Director at Viva! said: “It is imperative that we act now if we want to save our planet, and it’s clear that a vegan diet is the best way for an individual to make a difference.

“Raising awareness of the carbon footprints from the production of meat, dairy, fish and eggs is crucial – a lot of people have no idea that eating one beef burger can be as damaging as driving the average UK petrol car for 10 miles.

"We partnered with My Emissions, as well as The Canteen, to understand just how much impact carbon labels on our menus can have and to help diners realize the connection between what they’re eating and the environment.

"Unsurprisingly, those with meat on the menu have so far declined to take part which, we believe, is due to them knowing that meat-based dishes will have a considerably higher carbon footprint than vegan options."

The new menu, that will run from October to February, is being executed by the chefs currently, and the team say they are "excited" to learn more about the footprint of their meal choices.

Junior sous chef Penny Jane Hartley. (Tom Wren via SWNS)

“We reuse everything here - from lemons to aquafaba - there is no waste," said Penny, a chef at the restaurant.

“This is an incredibly important step given the climate crisis we are in and our initiative, from a local small business, is something I’m really proud to be a part of.”

Greg Picott, assistant manager, said having the carbon information available at the Stokes Croft venue has proved it is getting people thinking in the right way.

"It helps people to consciously think about the impact their everyday decisions have on the environment, and ultimately inspire them to take positive steps forwards," aidGreg, who has been vegan for seven years.

"I wouldn't want to work somewhere that doesn't take sustainability into account - we are in a climate emergency, and there is no denying that anymore.

"I really hope the initiative catches on - having this menu when it's broken down makes it much more visceral to people, and our menu reveals the numerical value of why being vegan is best for the environment."

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