By David Clark
As part of our One Planet Company commitments, we try to reduce our meat consumption to reduce our ecological footprint. I often get asked “what does building engineering have to do with sustainable food?” And the answer is “Same as a bank, an IT company, an accountancy firm, any company really, we all provide food at meetings so if we all made an effort to provide sustainable food it would help drive change.”
When our leadership team in the Australian business got together last week, I thought, let’s cut our impact. Lunch saw 100% vegetarian sandwiches served made by the local cafe underneath our office. On the evening we caught the train into central Sydney and enjoyed a vegan banquet at Bohdi.
A few of the meat heads wondered where the nearest kebab shop was (it’s amazing how conditioned we’ve become to expect meat in every meal), but everyone was well fed and watered with organic wine. There was surprise at the variation, choice and the amazing flavours, so all in all a big success.
The engineer in me wanted to do a quick calculation to see the difference it made. This could get complicated, so I will keep it very simple.
If 10 people all had 50g of red meat in their sandwiches and 250g of lamb for dinner then the total weight of meat consumed would be 3kg. This requires on average:
- 31,250 litres of water (10,412 litres/kg)*
- 117kg CO2 (39kgCO2/kg)*
In contrast the veggie meal was less than 10% of this and required no dead animals. I’m no veggie but I do appreciate in a bacon and egg sandwich the chicken is only involved, but the pig is committed.
I’m not saying everyone needs to become a vegetarian, but that day we easily cut out meat and I am sure the only side effects people felt the next day was due to the beer and wine.