Do you ever worry where your pub lunch has come from? There is usually no way of knowing if your meal was grown locally, or had to travel halfway across the world to reach your plate. In an age where carbon neutrality is routinely discussed, there is still little information on what impact our dining out is having on the environment.
The Canteen is now the first restaurant to take part in a first-of-its-kind carbon counting trial. It will let diners consider the effect the food they are ordering is having on the planet by listing each menu item’s carbon emissions. Open since 2009, the Stokes Croft bar and restaurant is well-known for its relaxed vibe to eat and drink in, as well as the free live music it hosts six nights a week. But it is a commitment to sustainability that truly sets it apart.
The Canteen has a completely vegetarian menu. It uses ingredients that are seasonally sourced and locally produced. The menu reacts to the supply of local producers, as well as making sure there is as little food waste as possible. It also works with renewable energy resources wherever it can.
As you can tell, there’s unlikely to be any nasty, environmentally unfriendly surprises when you dine here. For reference, an average UK beef burger can generate as much as 3,050g of CO2. Whereas The Canteen’s worst culprit produces only 675g of CO2. Nevertheless, it’s still going to get diners talking about their eating habits going forward.
“We are delighted with the carbon calculations of our menu, made up of predominantly vegan dishes, showing the importance of sustainable choices,” said Dr. Matt Harris, head chef at the Canteen. “If carbon labelling was rolled out across the UK, we’d see restaurants and customers encouraged to make better decisions around the food they consume.”
The trial is being run in partnership with vegan charity, Viva, and My Emissions, an organisation focused on reducing the carbon footprint of our food. According to My Emissions, food production accounts for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is one of the best and quickest ways to reduce impact. The trial is unlikely to make an instant change. But don’t be surprised if something similar pops up on other restaurant menus too soon.