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Cheeseless Pizza on Menu During Low Carbon Diet Day

Diners munched on veggie burgers and cheeseless pizza during Bon Appetit's second annual Low Carbon Diet Day. (Photo: Adrienne Frank)

Did you know the food system is responsible for one-third of global greenhouse emissions?

On Earth Day, April 22, Bon Appetit encouraged diners to reduce their culinary carbon footprint by opting for veggie burgers over traditional beef patties with cheese.

In honor of the second annual Low Carbon Diet Day, Bon Appetit – which operates cafes in 400 colleges and corporations across the country – served up such environmentally friendly dishes as turkey burgers, veggie cheeseless pizza, mussels and clams, and pulled barbecue chicken. All of the day’s low-carbon selections were marked with blue stickers.

As cows emit methane, a greenhouse gas, poultry and seasonal vegetables are better options, said Chef Mary Soto. According to Bon Appetit’s carbon calculator, a 4-oz. piece of prime rib has 4,838 “points,” versus 613 for 4-oz. of roasted turkey.

“Last year I was nervous that the students would be upset we might be taking away their burgers and dishes with cheese,” said Soto. “Once explained to them, the students embraced the options, realizing that they were just that: ‘options.’”

Over the next three years, Bon Appetit aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 25 percent by implementing a variety of changes:

  • reducing beef use by 25 percent
  • reducing cheese use by 25 percent
  • sourcing all meat and poultry, and nearly all produce, from North America
  • reducing food waste by 25 percent
  • eliminating air-freighted seafood    

To calculate the carbon emissions created by your favorite foods, log on to www.eatlowcarbon.org . According to the site, if consumed every day, a high carbon diet (4500 “points” or more) equates to about three tons of CO2 emissions each year – the equivalent of three round-trip three-hour flights.