TED’s first climate conference applauded for serving vegan menu

Author: Helen Greaves

Read Time:   |  21st October 2021

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Species Unite celebrates the Countdown Summit’s vegan menu designed by vegan chef Derek Sarno, while COP26 remains a step behind.


The Countdown Summit – the first in-person TED climate conference – has been applauded for serving a fully vegan menu from Derek Sarno during their event last week.

The highly anticipated Edinburgh event brought together hundreds of leaders for four days of talks to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis.

TED’s event also saw leading thinkers from around the world connect with politicians, business leaders, policymakers, scientists, indigenous leaders, artists, philanthropists, youth activists, and others in an initiative to inspire collaborations in making a net-zero future a reality.

During the event, only plant-based food was served – a decision which has garnered approval from animal and climate action group, Species Unite.

“Animal agriculture’s devastating impact on the environment cannot be overlooked: intensive animal farming is responsible for an estimated 14.5%—16.5% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions globally, on par with emissions levels of the entire transport sector,” said Elizabeth Novogratz, Executive Director of Species Unite.

“Studies show that reducing meat and dairy production and consumption is one of the most effective actions we can take to avoid catastrophic climate change.

“We applaud TED for listening to the science by serving plant-based, climate-friendly food at their climate conference. This sends a clear message to the world that they are serious about tackling animal agriculture’s catastrophic impact on our planet.”


The Countdown Summit comes just weeks ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.

COP26 is considered a critical summit for global climate action where leaders are set to negotiate a “comprehensive, ambitious and balanced outcome that takes forward coordinated climate action” in order to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees.

Despite being one of the largest contributors to climate change, animal agriculture is not on the COP26 agenda as a priority in climate change mitigation discussions.

This has caused widespread outrage, with some well-known vegan celebrities speaking out against the decision.

Moby, Joaquin Phoenix, and Billie Eilish are among the 18 celebrities who signed an open letter urging the organisers of COP26 to “formally and publicly recognise the role of animal agriculture as one of the largest contributors to climate change”.

COP26 has also been criticised for its decision to serve meat to the roughly 25,000 people who will attend the summit.

Species Unite has responded by publishing a petition calling for the organisers of COP26 to protect our planet by serving only plant-based food at the upcoming UN Climate Conference, setting an example for the rest of the world.

“If our world leaders are unwilling to make simple changes to their eating habits to protect our planet then what hope do we have of motivating everyday citizens to lower their carbon footprints?” says Novogratz.

“Eating meat is not only cruel to animals and unhealthy for humans, but it is also the primary cause of much of the environmental degradation that is leading to mass displacement of vulnerable communities, food scarcity in many parts of the world, critical habitat destruction, water pollution, and widespread animal extinctions.”

Want to bring environmentalism to your dining table? Read how a vegan diet can impact climate change.

Written by

Helen Greaves

Helen has been vegan since 2018 and has a background in vegan food marketing and social media. She's mother to a mischief of rats, and loves to spend her spare time making vegan cakes and bakes.

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