uniforms and aprons - green cuisine

One question that is asked a lot both in and out of the dining world is about the most impactful changes a restaurant can make when it comes to reducing its carbon footprint.

There are a lot of possible answers, from  made from ethically sourced material, shopping local and fostering close relationships with farmers, as well as growing as much of your own produce as possible and following the lead of Alain Passard.

However, arguably the biggest change a restaurant can make is to go vegetarian and reduce the amount of meat they sell. This is a fundamental change that not all restaurants can do, but one particular dining chain proved more than anyone else that there was a market for it.

David Canter was the co-founder of the Craft Potters Association and during the 1950s he had learned about the health benefits of vegetarian diets and unrefined foods, which whilst relatively common knowledge now was far more radical at the time.

In 1961, this inspired him to start Cranks, a wholefood restaurant that, whilst far from the first, was the first to highlight the need for high-quality, inspiring vegetarian food, and many of its choices from menu to the use of natural furniture and decorations have inspired a lot of restaurants in the years since.

It became a popular dining spot for Sir Paul McCartney, his wife Linda, Sir Cliff Richard and Princess Diana, as well as other vegetarian celebrities, and whilst it initially started with the goal of making the salad more attractive to non-vegetarians, eventually its signature dish became the nut roast.

It quickly expanded to six other branches in London as well as one in Copenhagen before the tragic passing of Mr Canter in 1981. Six years later his wife Kay and fellow co-founder Daphne Swan would sell Cranks, and it would survive a few more turbulent decades before closing for good in 2012.

September 07, 2023 — Jake Blakey