With climate news making the headlines more than ever before, it’s clear that we all need to do our bit to build a better, more sustainable future. And the events industry is no exception. Whilst there are many ways organisers and planners can be more sustainable, there is one area of events and conferences that could be key in the fight against climate change: food and drink.
Studies have found that cutting meat and dairy out of your diet can reduce your carbon footprint from food by 73%, making it one of the best ways to minimise your environmental impact. In fact, if every family in the UK removed meat from just one of their meals each week, it would cut the UK’s greenhouse emissions by 50 million tonnes – the equivalent of taking 16 million cars off the road.
As society is more eco-conscious than ever before, we got to thinking: is the future of conference and event food vegan?
Fuelling a better future
Earlier this month, the University had the privilege of hosting Trees for the Future, a two-day conference delivered by the Association of Applied Biologists (AAB) and the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR). From 3-4 November, experts from the worlds of science, politics and economics came together to discuss the role future forests will have in mitigating the effects of climate change.
Although the conference didn’t hit the headlines like COP26, its findings will form the basis of a policy document that will inform the UK Government’s sustainability strategy as it works towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Now, you can’t find the solutions to the world’s issues on an empty stomach. Over the two days, delegates enjoyed buffets and a conference dinner, carefully crafted by our in-house food and drink team, Food Fellows. And not a piece of meat was in sight.
Trees for the Future Dinner Menu
Whipped goat’s cheese, sweet pickled heritage beets, candied walnuts and chive oil (V)
Butternut squash ravioli, ratatouille stew, basil oil, parmesan and baby rocket (V)
Charred aubergine steak, soft herb polenta, spiced sultanas and roasted hazelnuts (Vg)
Winter berry Eton mess, blackberry and Cassis coulis, and brown sugar meringues (V)
As an event committed to building a more sustainable future, Trees for the Future’s organisers had requested an all-vegetarian menu, with plenty of plant-based options. But will these sorts of menus start being the norm in years to come?
An appetite for change
Last week, we asked our LinkedIn followers whether event and conference menus should be entirely plant-based to help combat climate change. Although only answered by a small proportion of people, the verdict is clear: people are in favour of keeping meat on the menu.
So, what does this mean for the future of conference and event food and drink? Fundamentally, it’s up to event organisers and professionals to be open-minded and do whatever works best for their clients. It’s about having the flexibility to provide more sustainable, low carbon choices, whilst still having the capacity to offer meat and dairy for a truly inclusive event.
Just like how no event is the same, every menu should be unique to your client’s needs. So, whilst the future of the conference and event food and drink may not be vegan just yet, people’s appetite for plant-based foods and sustainability is very much here to stay. And it’s time to start planning with these considerations in mind.
Responsible food and drink
At Conferences & events, we work closely with Food Fellows to bring our clients and delegates feel-good food that’s not only great for people but the planet too. Sustainability is a key pillar of the Food Fellows’ food story, which means that it underpins everything we serve on campus.
All our menus are prepared in-house, using seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients that champion animal welfare and support local suppliers. This allows us to cut down our food miles and reduce the environmental impact of our food and drink. We also offer an exciting range of plant-based foods and dairy-free alternatives are always available, no matter where you are on campus.
We can cater to all sorts of dietary requirements and create bespoke menus just for your event. To find out more, get in touch with a member of the team today.