Restaurant chain tracks carbon footprint of all its menu items


August 20, 2010

One of Otarian's new London restaurants

One of Otarian's new London restaurants

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A vegetarian diet, according to its proponents, has a lighter ecological footprint, reduced resource impacts, and lower carbon emissions than the non-vegetarian equivalent. A new fast-casual vegetarian restaurant chain, however, is taking “eating green” to a whole new level. Otarian, which already has locations in New York and opens in London this Friday, is the first global chain to carbon footprint all of its menu items according to the internationally recognized PAS 2050 standard. Not only can diners see the carbon figures for each item listed on the menu, but foods that generate too large of a footprint are simply not offered. The restaurant is also testing out the World Resources Institute's new product carbon foot printing standard, which Otarian claims “will help diners to understand the environmental impact of their food choices in a highly measurable and quantifiable way.”

To illustrate how eating there could offset carbon emissions, Otarian offers the following example: by swapping a meat-based lunch for its Carbon Saving Combo meal, a diner could reportedly save 2.3 kg (5.07 lbs.) of carbon, which Otarian says is the equivalent of four central London black cab journeys, a 27 km (16.8 miles) drive in an eco car, or 12 central London tube trips.

It’s not clear whether or not someone could achieve the same results by simply ordering similar foods at a regular restaurant, although Otarian claims to do more than just not use meat. For one thing, ingredients that would normally be transported by air are instead transported by road. If they can’t be delivered by road, then alternative ingredients are used. It also composts or recycles 98 percent of its waste, and uses packaging that is compostable, recyclable or reusable. The buildings themselves incorporate sustainable materials, including recycled glass, plastic and aluminum, and sustainably sourced bamboo.

There’s no doubt that all this environmental friendliness doesn’t do wonders for keeping the prices down, although those listed for the London restaurant don’t sound unreasonable – UKP3.95 to 6.25 for a main dish, or about US$6 to $9.70.

Of course, it all means nothing if the food isn’t any good. We look forward to hearing comments from any readers who have tried the place out!

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

This is not interesting and is pretty lame. The Carbon argument is politically motivated and the whole world could care less.

Jonathan Carcopo

If the business is successful...the more power to them. I think the premise is rediculous...everyone should know by now that man made global warming is a fraud!


just something else people can rub your nose lunch was more carbon neutral than yours!


Delivering freight by air is more efficient per mile than by road if using the mainline air frieghters or airliners - they\'ve actually increased the carbon footprint of some items by doing that, if they\'re travelling from the same origin that is. What about \'buying locally\', or having produce delivered by bicycle? Now that would be a hippy eco-friendly thing to do. Anyway, I\'m off to get some steak!


I think this is a great idea for the following reasons: 1) As an eco-issue, the viral marketing will be a HUGE help 2) Reducing the carbon impact of everything we do is important, if not for global warming then at least for global aesthetic. I know I for one do not enjoy breathing in smoke. Being slightly \"sensitive\" to toxic air (I gag / choke on car fumes / cigs). 3) The majority of scientists who are not paid to lie (ie government sci. for governments that do not want to reduce carbon footprint or cannot for economic reasons or corporate sci. for companies that have a vested interest in not reducing carbon emissions) agree that man-made or man-influenced climate change is a reality. This is not really a debatable question. Furthermore, looking at it from a logical stand point which course of action is safest / smartest. if global warming is not true and we do act to reduce our impact we have had the unfortunate effect of creating a more efficient economy, increased jobs, reduced resource use per unit of GDP, and managed to leave a cleaner planet for our kids to enjoy. Boo hoo. If global warming is not true and we do nothing... nothing changes. If global warming is true and we act as described YAY we saved the planet and our life support system. Good for us, we get to stay alive. If global warming is true and we do not act we get to die. oh... ok... so let me think here... which is the better idea: act or not act. Act can either stimulate the economy or keep us alive and not act can either do nothing or kill us.... hmmm... let me see..... 4) I was annoyed by the author\'s phrase \"There's no doubt that all this environmental friendliness doesn't do wonders for keeping the prices down...\" when time and again green products / methods are touted (even on this site) for being ways to SAVE money. In fact, it has been shown time and again to be the case. The initial investment may be higher (depending on what you are doing) but the long term savings cause the item / method to pay for itself 10-100 times over its lifespan.

Carbon reduction through everyday actions like going to a green restaurant, eating more veg (which is also great for your health), etc. are great ideas... now if only we could get people away from cars...

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