(CNSNews.com)- The pursuit of sustainability has led IKEA, the Swedish home-furnishings company, to develop "lower carbon alternatives" to the traditional beef-and-pork Swedish meatballs it now sells at its stores.
"IKEA is a responsible company, and we believe that we can play an important role in the move towards a more sustainable society," the company announced on April 22, Earth Day.
"We will continue to sell the regular meatballs that our customers enjoy every day at IKEA. However we will also provide lower carbon alternatives; a chicken meatball and a vegetarian meatball are under development and will complement our meatball offer in 2015."
Environmentalists hailed the move away from meat: "This is one of the first times a major retailer has introduced a meatless menu item explicitly to combat climate change," said the Center for Biological Diversity.
The group says most people don't realize how important it is to reduce meat consumption, which involves "agricultural emissions," such as methane from animals passing gas.
The Center for Biological Diversity recently launched a new campaign urging Americans to “take extinction off your plate.” Visitors to the website are urged to pledge that they will "eat less meat" and "save more wildlife."
Offering a less carbon-intensive meatball is just one of the steps IKEA is taking to reduce its carbon footprint.
Earlier this month, the company's U.S. division announced that is is making its first wind-farm investment in the United States with the purchase of a 98 megawatt wind farm in Hoopeston, Ill.
"We are delighted to make this investment – it is great for jobs, great for energy security, and great for our business. Importantly, it’s great for the future of our climate," said Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group.
The company also has installed 550,000 solar panels on IKEA buildings in nine countries.