Arguably one of the most significant conventions of the year, COP25, is underway in Madrid. The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change is a global summit that convenes annually to build consensus around how to respond to the world’s climate emergency. While its big-picture negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions and other issues continue through December 13, it’s a good time to consider what steps can be taken to reduce the carbon footprint of meetings and conventions. A new report from the Center for Biological Diversity on the positive impact of plant-based catering can help.
Understanding that food production—especially meat and dairy production—produces about 30 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and that catering sales topped $11 billion in 2018, the Center researched the environmental impact of common event menus and their plant-based alternatives. What researchers found was remarkable.
According to the Center’s report, Catering to the Climate, replacing conventional menu choices with a “low-impact” menu at events with 500 attendees can save “five acres of habitat from animal agriculture, avoid greenhouse emissions equivalent to those created by driving a car 22,000 miles, prevent 17 tons of manure pollution, and conserve nearly 100,000 gallons of water from irrigation and food processing.” The report includes a chart (below) that compares the environmental costs of menu items in terms of the land and water used to produce them, and the amount of CO2 generated.