Wahaca, one of the most famous Mexican restaurant chains around, has become one of the first such establishments to remove steak from their menu. They have decided to remove it because of the effect steak has on the environment- as it reportedly increases the carbon footprint. The co-owner of this chain is the winner of MasterChef 2005, Thomasina Miers, who has removed the item from 13 branches of this restaurant- for she believes meat increases the footprint by a great deal. The move could be considered interesting as tacos and steak have been one of the best selling items on the menu.
Wahaca Wants To Lessen Carbon Footprint
In 2022, Wahaca displayed the carbon footprint that came out as a result of each singular dish. It was found out that the chargrilled steak burrito was definitely the worst offender, and it does seem like the restaurant chain is not going to serve this anymore. This move by Wahaca is in sync with other restaurants that have started a trend to appeal to vegans and also tried to emulate means of cost-cutting by removing meat items. Speaking to The Telegraph, Ms. Miers stated, “We wanted to look at a way of reducing the amount of meat dishes … while still offering truly tasty options for those that still enjoy eating it. Being conscious that meat and dairy products are among the biggest culprits from an emissions perspective has led to us expanding our vegetarian and vegan offerings in recent years.“
This doesn’t mean that Wahaca will be completely removing meat from its menu in its effort to reduce carbon footprints. Some other best sellers, like the cooked beef taco, would still be on the menu. Wahaca was co-founded in 2007 by Thomasina, and the first branch was opened at Covent Garden, London. Initially, there were 20 such branches of the chain, but some of them had to be shut down after they suffered financial losses during the pandemic.
This Seems To Be A Growing Trend Amongst Other Restaurant Chains As Well
Mark Selby, another co-owner of Wahaca, went on to support this decision to reduce carbon footprint by removing steak by claiming that skirt steak, which was usually used in the steak and cheese tacos, as well as the burritos killed close to 100 cows every week simply due to how these cows were cut. Nevertheless, he does agree that this step was quite bold by Ms. Miers. He stated, “While I’m not worried about it at all, it is a bold step and it’s one where we did debate ‘do we really want to do this with our third biggest dish?’ I don’t think it will materially change the experience for anyone, but actually from a sustainability point of view, it brings us a long way.”
Ever since her victory at MasterChef, Thomasina Miers has been quite a household name and a successful celebrity chef over the years. She has written pieces for The Guardian and has also hosted quite a few shows like Mexican Food Made Simple. For her efforts and contribution to the food industry, she was given an OBE in 2019. Although she doesn’t find herself completely opposed to meat-eaters, she is definitely in support of regenerative farming practices. In a statement, she wrote, ‘I am much more for small-scale, community-driven farming because I believe in the potential of food to be a force for good, for human and environmental health.”
Cows have been known to be quite a major contributor to the change in climate with farm animals producing close to 14% of all carbon emissions and carbon footprints. This is why ministers have tried to force the farmers into giving herds additives which would reduce the gas from digestion in some of the compound feeds.
The Government Has A Plan For Reducing Carbon Footprint by 2030
The Net Zero Growth Plan of the Government, which was released in the early part of this year, looked to address the concerns from the High Court that the existing plans for reaching the climate goal before 2050 didn’t seem to be detailed enough. The plan outlined that bovine supplements would be circulated amongst the population by 2025, or as soon as possible- in order to reduce gas emissions by 20% by 2030. This further came after a report in January discovered that some of the restaurants around the country were actively removing meat-based products. The restaurant’s decision to do this was two-pronged- they wanted to cut their costs, as well as appeal to the clientele that was interested in plant-based food.
External Agencies Have A Possible Cause Behind The Trend
One of the senior insight managers at Lumina Intelligence, a food and drink market research company, Katherine Prowse, stated that the reduction in meat products resulted from restaurants trying to manage their costs during inflation, as well as listening to the needs of their customers. She mentioned, “We’re seeing trends around healthier living and around eating less meat, and restaurants are tapping into that. The benefit is they can manage costs at the same time because they’re saving on meat and saving on portion sizes.“
Even Kirsty Matthews, the marketing and insights manager at Macphie, had to comment on the growing interest in vegan food. She said, “Every year the Veganuary campaign prompts a new surge of vegan eaters. For some, it causes a full conversion to vegan eating, and for others it means simply occasionally going for the plant-based option. Either way, the impact of Veganuary should not be ignored.” According to the meat tracker used by Lumina Intelligence, around 33% of the main courses at major restaurants contain meat. But when one sees the same data at pubs, the share increases to 50%. Prowse further believes that although the ceiling has been reached on how far would plant-based foods feature on menus, they were also witnessing, “the expansion of vegan-only restaurants or with menus that are completely vegan“- something that would readily deal with the carbon footprints that steak leaves behind.
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- “Popular restaurant Wahaca ditches all steak from its menu to improve carbon footprint.” Mirror. Tim Hanlon. April 20, 2023.
- “Masterchef winner’s Mexican restaurant Wahaca ditches steak from its menu in bid to reduce its carbon footprint.” Daily Mail Laurience Dollimore. April 19, 2023.
- “Steak off the menu as famous chain looks to cut back carbon emissions.” ITv April 19.