Why we're making the veggie option the default at The Drum events


By Diane Young, Co-founder

January 7, 2020 | 4 min read

2019 was the year that nobody with any respect for life or other people could be comfortable continuing in their current lifestyle, as climate change became more high profile than ever before.

Drum event

I’ve made some changes as an individual, some examples being using bars of soap instead of plastic containers of liquid soap, being mindful about buying clothes, choosing food as much as possible based on the amount/type of packaging and since the recent opening of a local supermarket, walking to get the family groceries. I nag my children constantly about waste and plastic packaging on their purchases. And most recently I have massively cut down the amount of meat that I eat.

These are all small things. If all of us do a few small things it will add up to a lot, but I have found myself wondering how we can do bigger things to make a difference.

I’m not really one for a protest march and I will never superglue myself to anything (not on purpose anyway). I’m interested in more practical measures. For instance, during the climate strike, rather than joining it, The Drum instead applied itself to alerting our global audience. And we followed it up with a round-up of inspiring stories of what brands and agencies are doing to address climate destruction.

As we discussed how The Drum could reduce our environmental impact, one of our team came up with an idea for our events. We piloted it in the last couple of months of 2019 and we are now going to implement it permanently.

Instead of having a meat meal as the default with the option to go vegetarian, we are going veggie unless some guests really want to eat meat.

Each year we serve thousands of meals at awards dinners and conferences. I am not a climate change expert, but I am convinced enough by the growing bank of evidence that the meat we buy and serve creates huge damage through water use, feed production, methane and effluent pollution.

During our pilot, a few tables asked to stay with meat which is absolutely fine. We didn’t want there to be either meat-shaming or meat envy! Whilst we want to minimise the climate impact of our events, we want people to have a wonderful time. So when one awards table of 10 were horrified by the thought of eating just vegetables we ordered them a giant delivery of Big Mac meals.

On another occasion one person suggested that this is a cost-saving exercise.

The reality is that the number of ingredients is higher than normal and the preparation required is greater to make a meat-free meal really delicious. So the cost in money terms to us is the same but the cost to the planet is less.

But other than those instances, the reception we have had since instigating this in the last few weeks has been unanimously positive.

We hope that our readers and event attendees will support us in this endeavour.

Diane Young is chief executive and co-founder of The Drum


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