Olivia Gautier, Owner, Les Orangeries

A little less meat on the menu in France

Maybe it’s obvious, but even though every restaurant has to be very conscious of what its customers want, I also think that sometimes we have to take the lead.

This is something that we have been doing at the Orangeries for some time now. Since 2006 we have being sourcing most of our products locally, seasonally and organically if possible, which at first raised curiosity and scepticism amongst locals and clients alike.

Today I want to take another stand and radically change the way we think about our food.

If we think carefully, we are no longer omnivorous but rather carnivorous! The problem is that this has a major impact on climate change and the future of our planet. Food is a large source of carbon emissions, ahead of transportation and housing. And meat, especially red meat, has the greatest impact.

Working on a carbon footprinting experiment from 2009–2012, we understood the need to rebalance our plates towards more vegetables. We also worked to understand the different impacts per type of meat, as well as dairy. We therefore adopted a 50%/50% meat to vegetable ratio as a standard which I believe is already an important step forwards compared to other restaurants. At the same time we added a vegetarian option to our menu, highlighted by a plant-based 3-course menu at a very attractive price. Customer feedback was immediately very positive and has helped to build our reputation as a “Restaurant de Potager Bio”. It helped to make our customers aware of the importance of the quality of the products and its positive impact on the local economy as well as the environment more widely.

In the summer we took this a step further. Between our “Traditional Menu” (which includes 130gr-150gr of meat) and our “Vegetal Menu” (with no meat but some dairy), we created a brand new proposition: 1/3 meat and 2/3 plant-based, it is called the “Hedonistic Menu”. It is designed to answer the needs of the growing group of flexitarians who want to keep the taste of meat and enjoy the diversity that plant-based food can offer — as well as the pleasure of sustainability.

Then, this month we launched a six-course gastronomic “Carte Blanche au Chef” menu, which includes the Hedonistic and Vegetal options only. David, our chef, is very excited with this new challenge as it will give him a great opportunity to put forward his creativity. We think introducing this new menu now is the perfect time. We are really excited to see how our customers respond.

Thanks to an eco-calculator developed for restaurants here in France, we are now able to share with our guests the precise calculations of the impact of our menu on the environment. They find it striking to discover how the impacts of what they eat change dramatically, depending on the ingredients on the plate and their proportions.

We are committed to offer the best possible quality meat in all respects. Therefore, we are working increasingly closely with our local meat producers, paying greater attention to all their procedures to deliver the highest quality of product possible: free range, respect for seasonality, minimum maturity, less stressful slaughtering and better butchery. We are also helping develop a circular economy locally which means better feed for the animals too. We’ve introduced an organic craft brewery to our beef supplier and the cows can eat the beer-makers’ waste grain.

The Paris Agreement confirmed the urgency to change the way we live and eat. Some specialists say we have only three years to invert the current trend. That’s why we are acting now.

August 2017