McDonald’s going fully plant-based by 2025? A very ambitious goal, to say the least!
This is what vegan activist group Animal Rebellion has demanded from McDonald’s during their protest outside the fast food giant’s premises. The protesters actually went about blocking four McDonald’s distribution centres using trucks and (quite elaborate) bamboo structure with protesters locked into each base, making them hard for police to remove.
McDonald’s, being the largest fast food chain in the world, with 37,000 locations in over 100 countries, significantly contributes to the climate crisis. It lists beef production, restaurant energy usage, packaging and waste as its four largest contributors, accounting for 64% of its total carbon footprint.
McDonald’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint are notable: on Monday 17th it was announced that by 2030 they aim to cut 36% of restaurant and office emissions, equalling the effect of 32 million cars being taken off the road. The protesters, however, are demanding more.
James Ozden, an Animal Rebellion spokesperson, pointed out that the only sustainable way to feed the growing population is to adopt an entirely plant-based food system.
The climate emergency is real. The major contributors to each of our carbon footprints are transport, household energy and, of course, food. Meat, in particular beef, is of huge concern to environmentalists, as the farming of cows is one of the biggest causes of global warming: 1kg of beef has the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as driving a car for 160 miles. The World Resources Institute actually indicated that more than 75% of all agricultural land is used for meat and dairy production. In fact, if all the world’s cattle formed a nation, the only two countries to have higher greenhouse gas emissions would be China and the U.S.
These numbers are, undoubtedly, a bit of a shock to the system. That is the reason groups like Animal Rebellion go to the lengths they do (even risking getting arrested) to put pressure on large corporations like McDonald’s. The protests in Basingstoke, Hemel Hempstead, Coventry and Heywood affected approximately 1900 trucks, 1300 restaurants and 3.5 million customers, effecting at least a small dent in CO2 emissions for the day. 14 of the 100 protesters were arrested.
As an industry-leader, McDonald’s has a lot of influence over the practices its competitors employ. Eventually, activist pressure, like Animal Rebellion’s, and increasingly environmentally-conscious consumers will force companies to adopt greener practices. Equally, maintaining profit margins and meeting consumers’ growing demand for protein in a world with limited land and water, absolutely calls for sustainable change.
With the technology and innovation within the food industry, the options for plant-based and cultured meat and dairy production are endless and growing, begging the question: if not change now, then when?