Panera Adds a Climate-Friendly “Cool Food” Label to Menu Items
This year has brought more than its fair share of challenges for, basically, the entire planet, so we’re looking for any good news to share and Panera delivered. The national sandwich, salad, and soup chain has just launched a new label for menu items that are "climate-friendly" so along with the calorie cost of that Greek Salad (hold the cheese), you can now see whether your lunch will also have a lighter impact on the planet.
You can now not only look for a plant-based symbol on the menu at Panera but also a special “Cool Food Meals” meal designation, which indicateses that these items have a lower impact on the climate because of how the ingredients are grown and harvested. From Ten Vegetable Soup to the Mediterranean Bowl (skip the Greek yogurt for non-dairy eaters), more than half of the current menu entrées now meet the criteria for the Cool Food Meals moniker.
The labeling comes in collaboration with the World Resources Institute (WRI), which established a maximum recommended daily carbon footprint for a person’s diet, to be 38 percent lower than the current average. The recommendations are in line with WRI’s research on what is needed to be done in the next decade to help reduce the worst impact of our food system on climate change. It's well documented that meat and dairy require more water, forest land, and carbon emissions to grow and harvest than plant-based foods do, so a diet that eliminates meat and dairy is much better for the planet.
“At Panera, we are passionate about keeping the customer at the heart of everything we do, and that includes giving our guests choices to lower their impact on climate change through the food they eat in our bakery-cafes. With 55% of Panera entrees certified as Cool Food Meals, our guests have many options for delicious food with a lower carbon footprint, from salads to soups to sandwiches,” said Niren Chaudhary, Chief Executive Officer, Panera Bread in a company press release.
"Understanding the impact of what we eat on the environment is one way we can all take a small step toward combating climate change—so as a food company, we feel a strong responsibility to share this information and empower our guests to help make a difference.”
This isn’t the popular fast-casual chain’s first foray into becoming a more eco-friendly company. In fact, earlier this year, Panera unveiled new menu items in an effort to become 50% plant-based by 2021. And of course, while in an ideal world, a conventional cheeseburger would be a thing of the past, you don’t need to be fully vegan to make a difference for our pale blue dot: Being a part-time vegan or opting for meals that produce lower carbon emissions is an excellent way to make an impact.
Looking for another vegan-friendly chain that has solid meal choices for the environment? Just Salad also labels carbon emissions on its menu. We hope in the coming months that seeing carbon emissions on a menu becomes an increasingly popular feature. We hear that a low-carbon, plant-based meal pairs really well with Feeling Like a Rock Star. Hear! Hear!