Fast Food Restaurant Puts Carbon Footprint on the Menu

NEW YORK, NY — [Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Edie News, and is reprinted with permission.]

Otarian, the first in a planned chain of vegetarian restaurants opened in New York this week, with two more locations planned for London later in the year.

Carbon reduction company Sustain measured the carbon footprints of each menu item for the company, which will appear alongside the footprint of a comparable meat dish.

The aim is to encourage customers to think about the impact of their food choices on the planet and understand the environmental benefits of reducing meat consumption.Items that represent the biggest carbon savings will be actively promoted to customers.

Working with food sustainability consultancy Eat England, Sustain has carried out comprehensive "cradle-to-grave" carbon footprinting, which calculates greenhouse gas emissions from each stage of the products' lifecycles.

This includes sourcing the raw materials for each ingredient, manufacturing, packing, transporting, cooking and disposal of the product.

The calculations were performed according to PAS 2050 -- the U.K. Government's widely accepted carbon footprint specification.

Otarian founder Radhika Oswal, said: "With Otarian I hope to show that food can be delicious and good for the planet.

"If each vegetarian meal saves even one kilogram of carbon emissions or grain, or one litre of water or oil, the cumulative benefits of eating at Otarian can change the planet's current trajectory."

Jean-Yves Cherruault, environmental accounting manager at Sustain, said: "The work we have been doing for Otarian is very relevant given the ongoing debate about low carbon food choices.

"The carbon footprint assessment was instrumental in encouraging engagement with suppliers and identifying ways of reducing greenhouse gases from the menu.

"This hopefully marks the start of a new way of doing things for the restaurant industry."