Why Carbon Footprints Must be Included on Menus

Demand for meat, dairy, fish and eggs is destroying the planet. Animal agriculture is rooted in almost every single issue within the climate crisis, it is the leading cause for global heating, deforestation, land use change, wildlife loss, and air pollution.

Essentially – eating an animal productbased diet has a substantially higher negative impact on the planet than vegan alternatives, as Joseph Poore, climate researcher at the University of Oxford states “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth.” 

Carbon Counting on Menus

To raise awareness of the urgency to switch to a vegan diet for the health of the planet, Viva! has partnered with My Emissions to support Bristol restaurant, The Canteen, in calculating the carbon footprint of their menus to help consumers make an informed choice – which will invariably mean choosing vegan options.

We are calling on the Government to make it a legal requirement for restaurants across the country to do the same. As seen with calories becoming mandatory on the menus of cafes, restaurants and takeaways in England with more than 250 employees, the Government can implement industry wide rules to inform people on their eating habits. Given the urgency of the climate and wildlife extinction crises, the Government needs to step-in and take meaningful action.  

Eating just one beef burger can generate as much as 3.05kg CO2e1 Calculations based on the average patty containing 125g of UK beef collected within 150 miles of production. per serving – that’s the equivalent of driving the average UK petrol car for over 10 miles – compared to just 0.3kg CO2e2Calculations based on the average patty containing 125g of beef meat substitute collected within 150 miles of production. from a vegan alternative. 

Urge the Government to prioritise carbon footprints on menus

The difference a meal can make

What we choose to eat makes a huge difference to the planet. For every environmental metric, including carbon emissions, land use and water use, choosing the vegan option is substantially more beneficial. Just take a look at the top 10 UK meals estimated CO₂ produced per meal as a meat meal versus the vegan version. Vegan wins every time!

Let’s bring our focus back to Bristol eateries where Viva! has launched this restaurant trial. Looking at the amount of emissions that animal products produce at some of Bristol more meatier establishments, it demonstrates just how damaging meat-based menus are.

Steak of the Art

  • 400 g rump steak: 17.33 kg CO₂e. Labelled as a Very High carbon footprint by My Emissions
  • 500 g Chateaubriand: 21.67 kg CO₂e. Labelled as a Very High carbon footprint by My Emissions

The Ox Bristol

  • The Ox Steak House Burger with a 60 oz (170 g) beef patty: 7.37 kg CO₂e. Labelled as a Very High carbon footprint by My Emissions
  • 10 oz Sirloin Steak (283 g): 1.23 kg CO₂e. Labelled as a Very High carbon footprint by My Emissions

*These are estimates of the carbon emissions produced for the animal-based component of these meals, using My Emissions online food calculator.

My Emissions work with food businesses to provide a simple and intuitive carbon label that makes it easy to see whether a product has a low or high carbon footprint. They also offer a free easytouse food carbon footprint calculator, to inform you of the climate impact of your food, meals or a recipe.

Calculate your own food footprint here.  

Vegan for the Planet

Switching to a vegan diet is the single most impactful way to reduce your carbon footprint. If everyone around the world became vegan, greenhouse gas emissions would reduce by two-thirds while still providing enough food for everyone! Alongside reduced carbon emissions there are numerous environmental benefits of switching to a vegan diet, including: 

  • Up to 74 per cent less land would be required to feed the UK population if we all went vegan 
  • This would free up crucial land for carbon storage, essential for climate crisis mitigation, and reduce the pressures on the world’s wildlife and biodiversity, essential for humanity’s survival 
  • Help prevent the sixth mass extinction. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of wildlife life loss 
  • Vastly lower air pollution of which animal agriculture is the single biggest cause of in Europe 
  • Alleviate water pressure. Animal-based foods have a much larger water footprint than plant-based foods, with beef topping the scale, with one-third of the water use in animal agriculture used in the beef cattle sector 
  • Help the health of the of the world’s oceans. Factory farms, which produce the majority of the UK’s meat, dairy and eggs, are responsible for more than 500 nitrogen-flooded dead zones around the world’s oceans, essentially suffocating marine life 

Learn more about how going vegan can save the planet, wildlife and secure a healthy future for humanity, and how you can take action, through our environment campaigns, such as Vegan Now!  

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Start Your Vegan Journey! 

It really couldn’t be simpler to go vegan. Not only will you be helping the planet, but you’ll also be supporting your own health and helping put an end to animal cruelty and suffering. To help you make the switch, take our V7 programme – a brilliant way to test the waters of veganism. V7 is Viva!’s free vegan meal plan for a week. By signing up you will receive daily emails providing you with mouth-watering meal plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, alongside nutritional advice and top vegan tips.  

Also explore our lifestyle pages to show how positive and easy it is to go vegan!

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