La Cantine wants to help its customers stay informed about the overall impact of their food choices by listing the carbon footprint of each dish, as well as its ingredients and price.
The footprint includes distance traveled by ingredients, seasonality of ingredients, and emissions during production.
The dish with the highest carbon footprint on the current menu is the vegan dish “Miso and harissa aubergine, crispy za’atar, zucchini baba ganoush & tabbouleh”.
It costs £8.50 and measures 674g CO2.
Lowest on the menu is a sharing plate of beet and carrot pakora with cilantro yoghurt – measuring just 16g of CO2.
It all started when The Canteen was approached by the UK’s leading vegan charity, Viva!, who asked if restaurant managers wanted to be part of an initiative that sees the carbon footprint of meals calculated and evident at see on its menu.
Anna Blightman, Canteen Marketing Manager, explained: “Our head chef, Matt, went through the whole menu – and then sent to MyEmissions – a food carbon footprint calculator.
“We’ve all been looking forward to it, and the results have been a complete eye-opener. The reception has been amazing and really positive, with many customers asking, ‘why isn’t everyone doing this!'”
The initiative was partly inspired by the UK government’s decision to ensure that English restaurants with more than 250 employees display calorie information for each meal on their menus.
Anna said: “There was a campaign running at the time called ‘Carbon not calories’, and because we have a lot less than 250 employees we weren’t keen on including calories – but we decided to launch conversation and take a leap of faith.”
The new menu, which will run from October to February, is being executed by the restaurant’s chefs, who say they are “excited” to learn more about the imprint of their meal choices.
Penny, the restaurant’s chef, said: “We reuse everything here – from lemons to aquafaba – there is no waste. This is a hugely important step given the climate crisis we find ourselves in and our initiative, from a local small business, is something I’m really proud to be a part of.
Deputy Director Greg Picott said the availability of carbon information on the Stokes Croft site has proven to get people thinking in the right way.
Greg, who has been a vegan for seven years, added: “It helps people to consciously think about the impact of their day-to-day decisions on the environment, and ultimately inspires them to take positive steps forward. I wouldn’t want to work in a place that doesn’t take sustainability into account – we’re in a climate emergency, and there’s no denying it anymore.
“I really hope the initiative comes to fruition – having this menu when it’s broken down makes it much more visceral for people, and our menu reveals the numerical value of why being vegan is best for the environment. .”