San Francisco-based software company Salesforce has banned beef from its Dreamforce conference. The mega-event, which brings together 171,000 people for four days, celebrates “trailblazers and customer success.”
The beef ban saves 9 million gallons of water, according to the company. In addition to taking beef of the menu, Dreamforce will use compostable utensils and packaging. It won’t offer straws and will provide reusable plastic bottles for all attendees, saving an estimated 100,000 single-use bottles. Food waste is also out — all leftovers will be donated to local nonprofit Food Runners, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Salesforce chief impact officer Suzanne DiBianca said that the change came with increased expenses, but is worth the price.
“Climate change is happening. It’s here,” she said. “We have got to go fast. We have to change how we deliver Dreamforce. We have to change our operations. We have to use Dreamforce as a platform to educate people on how they can get involved.”
Beef’s Carbon Emissions
The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, a trade organization and lobbying group, was not happy about the ban.
“U.S. cattle producers utilize grazing animals to complement the native range and prairie ecosystems, while also preserving open spaces and protecting the land from becoming, let’s say, another resource-intensive conference center,” Lia Biondo, director of policy and outreach at the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, which represents beef producers, told the San Francisco Chronicle in an email.
She added, “Livestock production will continue to sequester carbon in the soil and offset the emissions required to maintain those server farms, as well as the emissions produced from all the planes, trains, and cars it took to get attendees to San Francisco.”
Salesforce said that it will offset emissions from employee travel. It is the largest private employer in San Francisco.
It is not clear what other animal products Salesforce will serve at its conference. But, beef is the top culprit as far as carbon emissions go. According to Michigan University’s Center for Sustainable Systems, beef emits more CO2 than other kinds of meat. One serving of beef emits 6.61 pounds of CO2 in stark contrast to .11 pounds per serving from legumes.
A number of universities across the globe have banned beef in a bid to slash carbon emissions, including the University of Coimbra in Portugal, Helsinki University, and Goldsmiths, University of London.
Salesforce kicked off today at the Moscone Center in San Francisco and runs until November 22. Speakers include high-profile individuals such as former President Barack Obama, author Deepak Chopra, and FIFA Golden Cup and Golden Ball winner Megan Rapinoe. It also includes environmental activists like Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, hip-hop artist and Youth Director of the Earth Guardians, and Alexandria Villaseñor, founder of Earth Uprising.