OVO’s going meatless on Mondays
By OVO Energy Thursday 26 February 2015
Here at OVO we’re always keen to do our bit for the environment (and we love a good challenge), which is why from the beginning of March we’ll be introducing Meatless Mondays to our office cafeterias in Bristol and London.
Inspired by the upcoming Climate Week, we wanted to take action to bring down our environmental footprint, so from 2 March every Monday will see our cafeterias serving a range of delicious vegetarian dishes – no meat allowed!
Our fabulous in-house café Friska already puts sustainability in the spotlight with its ethical approach to food sourcing, so it’s well-placed to help us on our meat-free journey.
We’ve decided to go meat-free one day a week (forever, not just for Climate Week!) because it’s a great way to make a real difference to the environment. Meat production is responsible for around 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, with some experts estimating it could be as much as 51% – that’s more than all of the world’s transport emissions combined.
How? Well the journey of a single burger from cow to plate is an energy and resource-intensive one – in fact, it takes nine times more fossil fuels to produce one calorie of meat than it does to make a calorie of plant protein.
There are around 1.25bn cattle on the planet, which all need to be fed and watered – and they’re a hungry lot. These cattle alone eat the amount of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people – more than the entire human population on Earth. So the simple business of growing crops and harvesting water for these animals creates a lot of emissions in itself – 45% of all the emissions created by meat production come from this alone.
And, believe it or not, while cow manure is great for the garden, it’s not such good news for the atmosphere. A single cow produces 220 kilos of methane from manure and erm, ‘gas’, in its lifetime, the equivalent of 5,000kg of CO2. If a single cow can produce around 2,000 burgers, that works out at around 2.6kg of CO2 per burger from cow poo alone, never mind all the energy used to raise and feed cattle, and then produce the actual burger itself. (And with 1.25bn cattle on the planet, that’s a lot of ‘digestive’ methane floating around the atmosphere!)
It’s not just the atmosphere that stands to benefit from a meat free Monday, either. Reducing the demand for meat means using less water, as an estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef (by comparison, soy tofu requires only 220 gallons of water per pound), as well as less land: beef production demands 160 times more land than crops such as potatoes and wheat, and in the Amazon cattle ranching accounts for around 70% of deforestation.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the average British diet is made of up to 70% meat (in fact, we eat an average of 375 burgers each in our lifetimes). We love a tasty burger now and again, but going meat-free for just one day a week can make a positive difference, and we’re excited to be a part of that. And we really will be making a difference: if 500 OVO employees gives up one burger a week, it’ll be the equivalent of saving 5000 car miles.
We are taking on the challenge of Meatless Monday, but what about the other days? One of the things we do, and the reason we love working with Friska, is that they endeavour to source local meat from the Southwest of England. We also try to limit beef, as pork and chicken have significantly lighter environmental footprints.
At OVO, we know the little things can make a big difference. Whether that's running our business efficiently to offer our customers great prices or going meatless on Mondays to increase awareness and reduce our footprint; making small changes can have a big impact.
Oh and don't forget to join in on the discussion every Monday on Twitter using #MeatlessMonday, where we'll be swapping recipes and sharing our progress.