Rob Howell, Root, and the Sustainable Restaurant Association

The  Staff Canteen

With Earth Hour less than a week away, The Sustainable Restaurant Association is encouraging restaurants to sign up to One Planet Plate - a new campaign on sustainability in restaurants.

It’s said we eat with our eyes and think with our stomachs. Presenting customers with a fabulous looking, great tasting dish that’s been made with thought, love and a very brief explanation, is often the most effective way of galvanising diners to use the power of their appetites wisely. It’s hard to think of a better way for chefs to showcase how they’re tackling the problems in our food system.

Two surveys conducted on behalf of the SRA, one by restaurant guide Harden’s, the other by National Union of Students, reveal very low levels of satisfaction with the social and environmental impact on offer in UK restaurants.

Just 20% of those asked by Harden’s said they were satisfied with how ethical the food is on the menus of places they’ve eaten in recently, while even fewer, only 17% are satisfied with its impact on the environment. The picture is similar amongst the students surveyed. Fewer than a quarter (24.8%) of students are satisfied with the environmental impact of the food on offer when they eat out, while fewer than one in three (30.4%) believe it’s meeting sufficient ethical standards.

Almost nine out of ten of those questioned by Harden’s (86%) said they thought restaurants should focus on creating a menu that helps them make sustainable choices.

So, the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) is launching a global campaign to help diners use the power of their appetites wisely. To give the campaign a kickstart, the SRA is launching it to coincide with WWF’s Earth Hour on 24 March – the largest environmental event in the calendar and a perfect moment to grab diners’ attention. More than 1,000 restaurants will be serving dishes that highlight how they’re addressing the problems in the food system.

Diners can find restaurants serving a One Planet Plate on a dynamic map at The site also serves as a treasure trove of more than 100 recipes for the dishes created and contributed by participating chefs including Raymond Blanc, Skye Gyngell and Angela Hartnett as well as high street restaurants like Jamie’s Italian, Carluccio’s, Zizzi and Wahaca are participating.

One Planet Plate is a restaurant campaign to put sustainability on the menu – a chance for chefs worldwide to demonstrate to diners in food form how they’re contributing to a better food future. Faced with a full menu of dishes to choose from, it can be hard for even the most conscious diners to feel confident they’re making the right choice, even in the most ethical restaurant. A One Planet Plate is effectively the chef’s sustainable special – his or her recommendation.

In summer 2017 chef Rob Howell upped sticks from Pony & Trap to help launch Root in Bristol. What had been a high welfare fried chicken restaurant was transformed overnight into a new concept, Root. Acknowledging changing eating habits and a move towards more flexitarian diets the menu’s main dishes are all vegetable-based, but customers can choose a meat or fish side. Howell.jpeg
Rob explains how Root’s philosophy and the aims of One Planet Plate are perfectly aligned: “It’s hard to pick one plate because the One Planet Plate philosophy matches our whole ethos here at Root. We’re using less meat and fish and wasting the very bare minimum. In fact, we’re wasting less here than at any restaurant I’ve ever worked in – less than a bag day goes to recycling.

“Whether as a chef or just as a human being, you should want to do the right thing when it comes to food. So, we’re all about making it tasty, but ensuring we’re smart about it. That means it’s good for business, the planet and our customers. The meat we do use, there’s absolutely no wastage, we use every scrap of the aubergines, butternut squash and beetroot too. What’s really fantastic is that we’re getting such a mix of customers, many of them enjoying dishes they would never have imagined eating. Last week we had two hench blokes in sat at the bar and one said to the other that the aubergine dish was the best thing he’d ever eaten.

“One Planet Plate is a fantastic opportunity to showcase great ingredients that tell a good story of some kind.”

“We’ve chosen our Beetroot, Blackberry, Hazelnut recipe as it’s one of our most popular and one that champions an ingredient that can easily be sourced locally and stored for many months of the year. It also encourages a trip to your nearest bramble hedge for a spot of foraging!” recipe larger.jpeg

For restaurants keen to join the campaign, it’s not too late. While Earth Hour is the launch, the SRA is urging restaurants to feature these dishes on the menu for the long-term.

Any restaurant interested in getting involved in One Planet Plate can click here for more details and submit their recipe here. Meanwhile, diners are being urged to snap and share a #oneplanetplate.

The Sustainable Restaurant Association is a not-for-profit membership org that helps foodservice make smart, sustainable decisions through the Food Made Good campaign.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th March 2018

Rob Howell, Root, and the Sustainable Restaurant Association