Previously in our topical blog series, you learned what seitan is and how to pronounce it, how adaptable seitan is to a variety of cuisines and flavor profiles, and what nutrients and vitamins it provides for your body. Today, we briefly review how a plant-based diet supports a healthy planet and what choices Bartleby’s Seitan Stand makes to mitigate the impact our business has on the environment.
“Agriculture accounts for 92% of the freshwater footprint of humanity; almost one third relates to animal products.” 
Humans use less water to produce edible plants than we use to produce meat. Bartleby’s serves a seitan-focused menu, and seitan is primarily vital wheat gluten. Stylistically, our southern-fried sandwiches are a replacement for fried chicken sandwiches from major chains like Chick-Fil-A. A kilogram of chicken meat requires 4,325 liters of water to produce . A kilogram of wheat, by comparison, requires about 1,500 liters of water to produce . It’s safe to say that Bartleby’s is saving way more water than its meat-serving competitors.
When examining the impact of meat consumption, the other major factors are land-use and carbon footprint.
“Globally, livestock pastures take up more than double the land that crops do.” 
Plant-based agriculture produces more edible product on less land. Livestock require extra space to roam and graze, and pound-for-pound produce less edible protein than plants . A 2017 report from the Humane Party  used data collected from the USDA to determine that “plant-based agriculture grows 512% more pounds of food than animal-based agriculture on 69% of the mass of land that animal-based agriculture uses.”
Equally dramatic is the difference in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Producing one tonne of chicken meat generates 6,900 kilograms of CO2 . Producing one tonne of wheat releases 200 kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere ―that’s less than 3% of the carbon footprint of chicken.
A little goes a long way
In late 2018, the World Resources Institute published a lengthy report on “Creating a Sustainable Food Future,” which includes analyses on the environmental impacts of our current diets and agriculture practices, and predictions on how to change those practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Calculations show that if global consumers swapped out 30% of the ruminant meat they ate (that’s mainly beef, lamb, and goat), they could close the GHG mitigation gap by half. In other words, swapping out only about a third of your meat consumption for a plant-based alternative would have a huge impact on reducing our collective carbon footprint.
Finding more places to make better choices
The way we serve our seitan also has an impact on the environment. All of our packaging materials are 100% biodegradable, or compostable, or recyclable (depending on the item). This includes the festive red-and-white boats that cradle our sweet potato fries, the clam shell boxes into which we nestle every Spicy Deluxe sandwich, and the new 8-ounce tubs that hold portions of our scratch-made sauce for pick-up orders. While we can't control where our sandwich boxes and fry boats land after they leave the truck, we feel good sending planet-friendly packaging out into the streets.
Food Revolution, our beloved commissary, is now officially composting in its kitchen areas. That means that owner Stephanie and culinary lead Scott can better manage food scraps while they are doing prep work. Compost generated at Food Revolution is picked up and processed by Black Earth Compost. They collect and compost organic waste from residents and commercial businesses, and later makes the nutrient-rich soil available at local retailers.
We believe we've been thoughtful so far about our business, and are committed to making decisions that support a healthy planet. Down the road, that might mean changes to our menu or our service radius, but we promise that tasty, southern-fried seitan will keep on coming! See you on the streets soon, dear devils.