Knowledge for better food systems

Catering to the climate: Earth-friendly menus at events

This report from the US nonprofit Centre for Biological Diversity quantifies the environmental impacts (climate, habitat loss and water use) of caterers or events planners switching from a “conventional American dining menu” (including dairy, beef and other meats) to a mostly plant-based alternative menu. 

Based on the sample menus in the report, switching from conventional to mostly plant-based menus could cut the carbon footprint by between 60% and 85% (varying between breakfast, lunch and dinner menus), cut habitat loss by 21% to 93% and cut water use by 46% to 72%.

It is not clear to what extent the sample “conventional” American menu actually represents the meals served by American caterers.

The report also sets out barriers faced by events planners in offering more plant-based menus, including the perceptions of diners, limitations in venues’ ability to prepare plant-based foods, and availability of food.

Read the full report, Catering to the climate: How Earth-friendly menus at events can help save the planet, here (PDF link). See also the Foodsource resource How far could changes in consumption reduce GHG emissions? 

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North America

North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

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