Tag: organic

Vegetarian and Vegan Catering for Events

Vegetarian and Vegan Catering for Events

In 2010, a report released by the United Nations Environment Programme encouraged a global shift to a more plant-based diet in order to combat the environmental effects of consuming animal products.

Event planners can also do their part by including more vegetarian and vegan options at events. Current menu options, however, usually lack a serious consideration of nutritional content and variety. As a result, event attendees may feel discouraged and don’t always choose the more sustainable vegetarian or vegan option.


Dedicated Vegetarian or Vegan Caterers

So what are some practical suggestions to make vegetarian and vegan food at your event more accommodating? Try simply catering from a local vegetarian or vegan caterer in your city.

If your city has a limited selection of dedicated vegetarian or vegan caterers, consider purchasing from a vegetarian or vegan”-friendly” caterer or restaurant. Many caterers and restaurants now have a selection of vegetarian/vegan options on their menus, oftentimes marked with a “V.” If you are considering making a fully vegan purchase, play it safe and ask for the list of ingredients to ensure that animal products, such as milk powder or egg whites are not hidden in the meal. As a general tip, Thai and Indian cuisines usually have a wide selection of veg dishes but don’t let that prevent you from exploring different cuisines.


Some caterers and restaurants do not have an existing vegan option, but customizing your meal is always an option.

If you are planning to dine out at a restaurant for your event, it is important to look for the vegetarian or vegan options on the menu before deciding to go. To play it safe, you can call in beforehand to confirm that the ingredients used are plant-based. While a greater number of people now understand the term “vegan,” making these assumptions may still be confusing to them. The safest option is to politely use the term “vegan” and explain if the term is not familiar to them.


As we recognize the role of food in sustainability, accommodating veg food is a great leap in the right direction.

Stay food-conscious!

6 best practices for green events

6 best practices for green events

Green events are now a hot trend, but environmentally sustainable events must become a standard requirement moving forward if we as an industry are to do our part in addressing this huge issue.

The greening of events can’t and must not simply be a trend; it must become a standard practice.

So instead of repeating what has already been said in many other places, let’s focus on six best practices for green events that you may not yet be familiar with but that will make a huge impact on reducing the carbon footprint of your events.

Add the purchase carbon offset credits to your budget

So what are carbon offsets? Basically, they are reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (namely CO2) taking place somewhere in the world that are subsequently translated into credits that can be purchased. One example of such a reduction would be the renewable energy generated by a wind farm that replaces energy generated by a coal-burning plant.

Such reductions are called carbon offsets, and these are quantified and sold in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. So if you purchase 1 ton of carbon offset credits, you will have reduced 1 ton of CO2 emissions from being released into the environment. The money you spend on these credits essentially goes towards these carbon-reducing projects and programs and speeds our progress in permanently reducing carbon emissions.

You have a couple of options here. You can choose to offset the carbon footprint for your on-site event itself, or you can offset the carbon footprint of your on-site event as well as for the travel of each of your guests/attendees. The latter will be more costly, as guest/attendee travel has by far the biggest carbon impact of any event-related activity, so you may want to offset for your on-site event activities/practices and ask your guests/attendees to purchase their own carbon offset credits to help reduce their travel footprints.

Reduce or eliminate animal meats and proteins from your menus


Did you know that meat production generates 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions every year? In simpler terms, a half-pound hamburger that cooks down to a patty the size of two decks of cards releases as much CO2 as driving a 3000 pound vehicle almost 10 miles.

By reducing the meat portions in your event menus or altogether eliminating meat and substituting other protein options (like tofu, beans/lentils, seitan, etc.), you can considerably reduce your event’s carbon footprint and green up your event even more.

Granted, eliminating meat from menus may not be feasible for some events (especially if you are holding an event for the beef or pork industry), so in those cases you should seek out in-season, locally sourced meats and produce. This will reduce the transportation costs of these foods.

In addition, you can seek out food providers that package their foods with environmentally friendly and recyclable or reusable materials, and you can have any leftovers sent to a local food kitchen or homeless shelter and compost everything else.

Choose a truly green venue

A green event isn’t green without the involvement and participation of your event venue.

Today many venues offer recycling and composting options for you and your guests. However, truly green venues go much further than this, so when evaluating facilities for your green events, look for venues that:

  • Are a LEED-Certified facility (LEED certification is a standardized building industry certification granted to facilities that meet a number of requirements in reducing greenhouse gas emissions). This is by far the most important factor in identifying a truly green venue.
  • Have an Energy Star score of better than 50, with a score of better than 75 being optimal. Basically, the higher the score, the better.
  • Are within close proximity (1/4 to 1/2 mile) to public transit options.
  • Employ energy-saving systems (like convection heating/cooling and energy-efficient LED or CFL lighting) and water-saving strategies (like low-water toilets and showerheads).
  • Use vehicles with low emissions or low energy consumption rates (like natural-gas powered vehicles).
  • Maximize natural light to illuminate their event spaces and rooms as well as to heat those spaces.

Offer incentives for guests that rideshare or take direct flights

As we discussed earlier, transportation is likely to have the biggest impact when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions generated by your event. This can extend to a number of areas – like transportation of food items and decor/flowers and on-site transportation – but the biggest transportation impact is the separate trips all your attendees make to the event itself.

The first step here is to locate your green event centrally so that the largest number of guests have the shortest distance to travel.

But the next thing you can do is to give your attendees incentives to share rides to the event or take direct flights (which are much more efficient than flights with connections).

You could offer special prizes or discounts to these guests who choose these greener options and partner with a sponsor to provide the gifts. You could even give priority seating, menu options or value-added programming to these guests as incentives.

Reduce the amount of “stuff” dispensed at the event

Swag. Handouts. Gifts. Programs. Favors. Promo items. Gift bags. It’s amazing the amount of stuff we take home from events and never, ever use again. Eventually, most of it ends up in a landfill. When you think of all the energy it took to produce those items and the additional energy to dispose of them, it makes you shake your head.

So instead of handing out materials, opt for electronically distributing things like programs and guides for your event that people can load on their laptops, tablets and smartphones.

And instead of giving out another logo-emblazoned stress ball or post-it note dispenser, opt for giving out experiences or intangible-but-useful items instead, like tickets to movies or music shows, gift cards for local vendors or donations made by you on your guests’ behalf.  If you must give out a physical object, give out items that are environmentally sustainable, like beeswax candles or small flower/herb pots.

Set a casual dress code for your event

Suits may look spiffy, but lots of dress clothes can also contribute to the carbon footprint of an event. Dry cleaning releases lots of greenhouse gases, as does having to lower the temperature of your event venue or guest rooms so that guests in dress clothes are comfortable.

By instituting a casual dress code that fits the seasonal climate, you can avoid the above measures and have a greener events.

Do you have any revolutionary sustainable event best practices of your own? Then add them to the comments below.

Eco-minded Planning

Eco-minded Planning

Sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are terms that continue to generate thought in the events industry. If you’re still not sure what those terms mean or how they impact the way you plan, here are the definitions:

Sustainability is a method of using a resource so that the resource is not depleted.

Corporate social responsibility is an organization’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment. The hospitality industry might express this through their waste and pollution reduction processes, or contributing to educational and social programs.

How can you plan with greener practices in place? How can you work better with hoteliers and vendors to make sure they are using the best practices? Here are some ideas:

Interactive technologies like tablets, video walls, and kiosks allow you to communicate your messages electronically on a real-time basis, saving on both paper and printing.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by offering recycling bins, and/or partnering with sustainable organizations that help keep materials out of landfills and allows them to be re-purposed instead. Let guests know of your efforts so they can participate—and feel good about doing it.

Transportation contributes to your carbon footprint, of course, so be conscious of that when considering your transportation options. To green up your transportation:

1. Understand the most efficient ways your guests can get to your hotel or destination. Promote those ways on your website for meetings when transportation is not being covered.
2. Utilize bus shuttle service instead of individual sedans to get groups to/from the airport versus.
3. If individual sedans are necessary, work with companies that offer hybrid or electric cars.
4. Consider destinations with a high ‘walkability’ score.
5. Encourage attendees to walk to local restaurants and attractions and/or share a cab when they have free time.

What are you doing to be eco-friendly?