Eating with a foot in your mouth

How does one decide on what to eat when they’ve got carbon footprint information next to every option at Chalmers?


I come from a decently big city in Canada, called Cowtown.  Well, that’s not its real name, that would be Calgary, but it is affectionately known as Cowtown because of the big farming and beef industry that encompasses the city.  So, I grew up eating beef fairly regularly, it’s tasty, it’s cheap, and it supports the economy.  But I was not entirely aware of what effects eating all this beef could have on the environment.

As soon as you arrive at Chalmers and start looking for places to eat and subsequently start looking at the menus (note: this link shows the daily menu , so will only have items Monday-Friday during the school year) you will see the many options from meat, to fish, to vegan.  And, next to each option you’ll also see the CO2e emissions! As someone that wants to try harder to be sustainable and environmentally friendly, this was both great to learn from, but also a bit jarring.  You really start to see the trends of how the meat options are the heaviest producers of CO2e emissions.  Especially with the colour scale used to display the information, where “green means ‘go’, and red means ‘stop’”.

When I’m feeling a bit lazy and don’t feel like cooking, or when I just want to try something new I check out the menu and then I have to think, “This all looks great, but what if I actually make an effort at reducing my carbon footprint.”  It’s great to be surrounded by all of these options. It spurs new ideas. Eating on campus has given me new ideas that I can bring to my own kitchen so that I can work on reducing my carbon footprint at home too.  I never knew that there were so many things you could do with lentils!  Or even meat substitutes. The chilli in the picture contains pulled soy.  I don’t know how they did it, but they used soy to mimic pulled pork and it was really good!

I was recently back in Calgary for the winter break and I realised how rare it actually is to see the carbon footprint information on food, and even more so, I realised how few vegan options there were.  I hope that idea of restaurants providing the carbon footprint information takes off in Canada and lands on its feet.

Bonus Fact:  Currently if you get takeaway from Chalmers cafeteria the food is served in recyclable plastic containers, but at the cafeteria named S.M.A.K., in the Chalmers Architecture and Civil Engineering building, you can buy a metal container to be used for takeaway instead that they fill with the food.  Then each time you buy lunch from there you bring back your old one, and they switch it out with a new, clean one.


Page manager Published: Thu 07 Mar 2019.