Just Salad has pledged to put on all of its menu items a carbon label to indicate its footprint, making it the first U.S. restaurant chain to take the initiative. The company also announced that it will be adding more plant-based cheese options to its menu in order to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. It comes as consumers begin to couple their dietary choices with sustainability and are demanding the F&B industry to offer more low-carbon options.
By committing to label its entire menu with carbon footprint labels, Just Salad has become the first U.S. restaurant to do so by this year’s Climate Week NYC, which begins September 21. The carbon footprint of each Just Salad item was calculated by a team of MBA students from the NYU Stern School of Business as a part of a Stern Solutions Project.
Each label will reflect the total greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of the ingredients in each menu item. Production is by far the most important determinant of the carbon footprint of foods, and encompasses everything from the agricultural farming method used to the amount of land and water wastage or whether it contributed to deforestation and methane emissions, in the case of livestock production.
[It’s] a vitally important way to educate consumers about sustainable diets. We need the food industry to step up, and hopefully, they can show that doing well by the planet can also be good for the bottom line.Diego Rose, Professor and Director of Nutrition at Tulane University
The company says that the pledge is a part of its ambitions to make sustainable choices more convenient for consumers.
“By carbon labelling our menu, we’re embracing climate-smart eating, helping our guests eat for planetary and human health,” said Sandra Noonan, chief sustainability officer at Just Salad. “We need to know how our food choices affect our well-being at a planetary level.”
Diego Rose, professor and director of nutrition at Tulane University, believes that the move will encourage more consumers to think about their dietary choices and how it impacts the environment. “[It’s] a vitally important way to educate consumers about sustainable diets,” she said.
“We need the food industry to step up, and hopefully, they can show that doing well by the planet can also be good for the bottom line.”
Just Salad also announced that it will be adding more plant-based varieties on its menu, as it is clear that plant-based eating is one of the top ways to slash carbon emissions. According to the United Nations, meat and dairy production accounts for as much as 18% of all global greenhouse gas emissions – more than all types of transportation combined.
Last year, the brand replaced grass-fed beef on its menu with Beyond Meat’s plant-based beef alternative, which has a 90% lower carbon footprint than regular beef. Now, Just Salad hopes to add more plant-based cheese options by 2022 or earlier in order to reduce carbon-intensive dairy consumption.
By carbon labelling our menu, we’re embracing climate-smart eating, helping our guests eat for planetary and human health. We need to know how our food choices affect our well-being at a planetary level.Sandra Noonan, Chief Sustainability Officer at Just Salad
A recent G20 food footprint report by Oslo-based nonprofit EAT found that if the world’s largest economies switched to a flexitarian diet – lowering the consumption of meat and dairy – as much as 40% of the total global carbon budget for food could be freed up.
While still a novel concept, carbon footprint labels are slowly but steadily being adopted by companies to provide consumers with information about the sustainability of a product. Just last month, multinational consumer goods giant Unilever revealed plans to show carbon labels on every single one of its 70,000 products it manufactures across its entire inventory, from personal care items to condiments.
Eco footwear brand Allbirds also recently announced that it will begin displaying a carbon count for every shoe in its sneaker collection. Meanwhile, vegetarian and vegan meat substitute brand Quorn has launched low-carbon food labels on its top-selling products to show consumers how many emissions are saved by ditching conventional meat and dairy.
Lead image courtesy of Just Salad / designed by Green Queen Media.