In February 2022 the Gaucho chain will open what it calls “Scotland’s most sustainable steak restaurant” in Glasgow, the city often dubbed 'the vegan capital of the UK' and now associated with COP26 and activists calling for a dramatic reduction in meat consumption.
The restaurant will serve exclusively carbon neutral steaks, where the carbon emissions have been reduced at source, then calculated from field to fork at source before being offset through a reforestation programme in the Amazon. By making meat-eating a sustainable choice, Gaucho creates 'permission to indulge'.
"We must stop eating intensively reared, poor-quality meats and support responsible restaurateurs committed to regenerative farming and providing an ethical, guilt-free beef offering on menus. I hope today’s launch will see many restaurant groups join us in this undertaking,” Martin Williams, CEO of the Gaucho restaurant chain, said in an interview. Founded in 1994, Gaucho operates 16 restaurants in the UK with Argentine steak its speciality.
No category has been as criticised in recent years for its effect on the environment as meat and dairy. Sustainability is most commonly cited as animal protein’s Achilles Heel and is a common theme of media and consumer attacks.
However, as well as a major challenge it is also a huge opportunity. Consumers want sustainability - and most also want meat and dairy to remain a part of their diet. More meat and dairy companies are embracing the opportunity and as they do, that gives consumers permission to go on enjoying a favourite food.
Steps such as those being taken by Gaucho are by no means rare. Makers of plant proteins will have to learn how to really compete and not – as companies like Beyond and others have done – rely on the lazy assumption that plant proteins will always beat animal proteins on sustainability.