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A meaty question

Would you contemplate serving only vegetables and fish to your delegates? Would they accept such a proposal?

Here’s something to chew on. According to a paper published in Science magazine recently, the single most effective thing an individual can do to save the planet is to stop eating meat.

Researchers at the University of Oxford, in the UK, found that animal farming takes up 83 per cent of the world’s agricultural land, but delivers only 18 per cent of our calories.

A plant-based diet, by contrast, cuts the use of land by more than three-quarters and halves the greenhouse gases and other pollution that are caused by food production.

Will anyone in the meetings industry take note? I was impressed to discover someone already has.

Amidst a jargon-heavy white paper from the Global Destination Sustainability Index, called Sustainable Destination Management: The Road to a Circular Economy, there’s this nugget.

Visit Espoo has made a great step forward by committing to only serve locally produced vegetarian food and sustainably fished fish for the international association delegates attending Espoo city receptions. As part of the Finnish Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development (www.sitoumus2050.fi) Visit Espoo, will be the first Convention Bureau in Finland to have made a  commitment from 2018 onwards to only serve vegetarian food accompanied with fish that is sustainably fished from the Baltic Sea and Surrounding Lakes.

Now, this only applies to city-sponsored receptions of course, but it’s a start.

I am a meat eater.  I understand the visceral pleasure of sinking one’s teeth into a juicy steak, but I, like many others, have started to seriously question the implications of my diet. And I think I could separate ‘work’ from ‘pleasure’. As a delegate I would happily consume a vegetarian or even vegan menu, especially if I had flown long-haul to the conference. It seems an obvious way for the meetings industry to get serious about tackling its contribution to climate change. After all, we can all live without meat for a few days.

I can hear the response now: ‘Our delegates would not put up with that!’ – or variations on a theme. But I wonder if that’s really true? Sometimes we just need the choice to be taken out of our hands.