Table Talk: Save the planet during lunch at Otarian

Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:22am EDT
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By Nina Chestney

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - "Be a legend in your own lunchtime," says an advertisement in the London underground for Otarian, a new vegetarian fast-food chain which hopes to play a small part in the fight against climate change.

Australia-based owner and founder Radhika Oswal opened two Otarian outlets in New York earlier this year and two more in London last month. The chain offers over 20 vegetarian meals to eat in or take away, including a field mushroom burger, sweet potato fries and a tandoori mushroom and paneer wrap.

The menu claims diners can save an average 2.3 kg (5 lb) of carbon dioxide equivalent by swapping their usual meat-based lunch for an Otarian "combo" meal.

Meat production is estimated to account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, and some scientists have cited lower meat consumption as a way to tackle climate change.

Otarian is part of Oswal's family business Oswal Group Global, which has $5 billion of investment capital and a wide range of assets including an ammonia plant in Australia.

Diners will have their own motives for visiting Otarian -- increased air miles, an aircon unit, neglecting recycling.

"People want to do the right thing and most people today are environmentally conscious but are time poor, money conscious and don't understand the personal impact they can make in their daily lives," Oswal told Reuters.

PAYING A PREMIUM   Continued...