York’s restaurants and cafes could help tackle climate change – by offering more vegan and vegetarian dishes.

City of York Council’s new climate change committee invited residents to share their ideas about how to reduce carbon emissions.

And Leah Bennett, speaking at the panel’s second ever meeting, said the local authority should work with restaurants and the food festival to promote dishes that have a lower impact on the environment.


She said agriculture around meat and dairy production is a major contributor to carbon emissions.

And that York could develop a reputation not just as a destination for good food but also for “greener food”.

Positive idea

An unusual dish from another vegan restaurant in York, Once Across The Garden – Irn Bru Tofu on chips. Photograph: Facebook
Leah told councillors that restaurants should offer greater variety – rather than trying to simply promote veganism. She said:

  • We could encourage some of the cafes and restaurants to actually have a wider range of vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian options.

    Making that move [to eat less meat and dairy] is quite hard – but we could just try to get people to eat a little bit more of a plant-based diet.

    And I think you only really do that by being positive – through education, through the food festivals.

She added: “I’m hoping that in the next five years people want to come to York not just for its history – but also for its food and also for greener food.”

Carbon emissions

Mike Childs from Friends of the Earth highlighted the impact of carbon emissions from homes – saying just 36 per cent of York homes are well insulated.

He added the city also needs more trees and said we also currently only generate 10MW of renewable energy.

The meeting heard the local authority is planning to put cash into better insulating all council houses.

And that it is currently working on proposals to plant 50,000 more trees as part of the Northern Forest and White Rose Forest programmes.