Labelling food items with their calculated carbon footprint could encourage consumers to shop with sustainability in mind.

The government is under increasing pressure to make carbon footprint labels on restaurant menus in the UK ‘mandatory’.It follows the extreme heatwave that sweltered the nation last month, with temperatures hitting a record-high of 40.3°C.

Animal rights charity Viva! has now launched an online petition to prevent the worsening of climate change and species extinction. “Displaying carbon calculations on menus is significantly more important to the health of the UK and the planet than calories at this pivotal moment in time,” Viva! states. “Meat, dairy, fish and eggs have a considerably higher negative impact on the planet than vegan alternatives. We need more awareness of the link between our food choices and the environment”.

According to the charity, eating just one beef burger can generate as much as 3.05kg CO2 per serving. This is the equivalent of driving the average UK petrol car for more than 10 miles. In comparison, vegan alternatives produce just 0.3kg CO2e.

Carbon footprint labels – do they work?

A 2021 study published in Science Direct highlighted how ‘climate impact information’ can steer people towards food consumption that has a lower carbon emission. It points out that while some individuals avoid carbon information where possible, they alter their behaviour if information is imposed upon them.

Researchers concluded: “The implication from our findings is that while interested individuals can be expected to more actively seek out climate impact information (eg. turn the package, read a complex label), avoiders will only be affected by the label if it is imposed upon them.

“Hence, while CO2e can be reduced by providing consumers with labels on their products, such initiatives will likely need to be mandatory, because high-emissions producers are unlikely to voluntarily provide such information on a product level”.

Original source: https://www.veganfoodandliving.com