Vegan restaurants are hot right now, but our planet is getting a lot hotter, a lot faster. While the word is beginning to spread the word that a vegan diet can dramatically slow the march toward climate change, at this pace, we need more than individual action. Fig + Farro, a chic vegan restaurant in Minneapolis, is setting an example for a larger-scale shift toward plant-based eating and environmental stewardship. The business goes above and beyond to integrate sustainable practices, both in its kitchen and the community beyond its walls. Here are six attainable tips all vegan restaurants should implement to become leaders in the fight against climate change. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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1. Attract (and welcome) all eaters
According to the University of Chicago, if every American ate one less meat meal per week, it would be the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking 500,000 cars off the roads. So while those self-proclaimed “carnivores” and “cheese addicts” may not seem like the target audience, they are the ones who can have a greater impact on the planet by patronizing a plant-based restaurant and reducing their animal consumption every now and then. Fig + Farro believes that vegan restaurants have a responsibility to reach outside their bubble and attract every kind of eater, then turn on that hospitality charm and educate them on how incredible vegan food can be—both on the palette and the planet. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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2. Educate with Instagram
While restaurants might have a love-hate relationship with Instagram, there’s no denying it serves as a powerful (and free) marketing tool. However, it can also be used to educate. Compliment a mouthwatering post with a quick fact about sustainability or how a customer can easily lower their carbon foodprint. You’ll grab their attention with the image and give them something to ponder over—other than which vegan cheese board they should order. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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3. Become a social hub
Some restaurants—vegan or otherwise—put on an air of pretension. When that restaurant happens to be vegan, some assume that vegans are uppity, annoying, and high-maintenance. Break the stereotype. Allow your restaurant to be a gathering space of love and community. Host events, offer “date night” deals, and get the community talking. It is crucial to be as inclusive as possible, because we can’t fight climate change on our own. It takes a village—and delicious vegan food. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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4. Reduce food waste
About a third of all food in the U.S. is wasted, which means all the energy, water, and packaging that went into production is also wasted. Restaurants are notorious culprits of food waste, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Keep portion sizes manageable (that means no “stunt food” such as mountain-high vegan nachos or any food measured by the foot), get creative with food scraps (a la fried potato skins and carrot tops), and learn how to compost. Investing in sustainable to-go containers also helps to diverge food waste by encouraging customers to take leftovers home. Leave no seitan piccata behind! 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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5. Plant a tree
Deforestation that occurs as a result of livestock production is one of the biggest threats to climate change. Restaurants can help bring back greenery by partnering with local or global tree-planting projects such as Trees for the Future or the Trillion Trees Campaign. Fig + Farro plants a tree for every guest, and in just the first few months of the operation, the business planted over 27,000 trees. If every restaurant even committed to one tree a night, we’d see a lot more green and the threat of deforestation would be history. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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6. Excel in the kitchen
Not to state the obvious, but great vegan food should be at the core of any restaurant. The goal is to keep people coming back, not just for the bottom line, but to ensure they eat plant-based. The more enticing and enjoyable the menu is, the more customers will associate excellent food with the plant-based diet. Come up with specials, keep the customer favorites, and listen to and apply their feedback. Whether the customers believe in climate change or not, they can all agree that dessert is not to be missed. 

 

Fig + Farro is happy to work with any restaurant that wishes to implement these environmentally friendly practices. To get in touch, contact hello@figanfarro.com

 

Michelle Courtright is the founder of Fig + Farro and was part of a business delegation to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP24). 

Photo credit: Fig + Farro

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