Bristol restaurant becomes first in Britain to add carbon emissions to menu

Initiative was launched by the UK’s leading vegan charity

Lauren Beavis
Wednesday 14 September 2022 10:12 BST
Vegetarian restaurant is the first in Britain to add carbon emissions to its menu - to show the environmental cost of every mea
Vegetarian restaurant is the first in Britain to add carbon emissions to its menu - to show the environmental cost of every mea (Tom Wren SWNS)

A vegetarian restaurant in Bristol has become the first in Britain to add carbon emissions to its menu, so customers can see the environmental cost of each meal.

The Canteen wants to help their customers stay informed about the global impact of their food choices by listing the carbon footprint of every dish, as well as its ingredients and price.

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

The meal with the highest carbon footprint on the current menu is vegan dish “Miso and harissa aubergine, za'atar brittle, courgette baba ganoush & tabbouleh”.

It costs £8.50 and measures 674g CO2.

The lowest on the menu is a 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!, which asked if restaurant managers wanted be part of an initiative that sees the carbon footprint of meals calculated and evident to see on its menu.

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

"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 initiative was partly inspired by the UK government decision to make English restaurants with more than 250 employees display calorie information for each meal on their menus.

Anna said: "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."

The menu at The Canteen
The menu at The Canteen (Tom Wren SWNS)

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

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

Greg, who has been vegan for seven years, added: "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. 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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