This week we teamed up with hub members Wholegrain Digital and I AM Enterprises to put on a community screening of the documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. Over 50 members and friends joined us to learn more about the environmental impact of animal agriculture, and to network over some tasty vegan treats, supplied by La Tradi.
Cowspiracy follows the journey of intrepid, American filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the devastation caused by animal farming, the unsustainable meat industry and the suspicious silence from environmental organisations and the government. In this blog, we’re examining what we learnt by coming together to watch the film and what is being done to combat the issues raised.
Livestock agriculture has a greater ecological footprint than any other emitter. The greenhouse gas emissions of the meat industry are greater than all transport put together – every train, plane, car, lorry and boat – and is responsible for 18% of all global greenhouse emissions. Animal agriculture also demands massive amounts of water. Conservative figures show that 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce just one pound of beef, and a shocking 1,000 gallons of water are needed to produce one gallon of milk. The oceans are also being over-exploited. Overfishing is reducing fish stocks and land farming is polluting the water – with some scientists predicting fishless oceans by 2048.
The film claims that some of the largest organisations dedicated to protecting our environment have been complicit in covering up this damage, even suggesting that government and corporate funding has silenced them. Greenpeace were one of the organisations that were criticised in the film for refusing to be interviewed.
Whilst this seems very suspicious, Greenpeace have since written a blog criticising the film for its portrayal of them and their peers. ‘We all share Cowspiracy’s concerns about the environmental impact of animal agriculture and it’s great that these issues are being given more attention. However, our US office declined to take part in this project as they felt sure our position would be misrepresented (as it has been for several other organisations featured in the film). But sadly our reasons for not taking part have been misrepresented as well, in an attempt to create a sensationalist conspiracy where none exists’ they explain.
‘The implication in Cowspiracy that we take money from the meat industry is completely false and baseless – we are 100% independent and accept no money from companies or government.’
At Impact Hub Westminster, we understand that positive change can happen when we connect, collaborate and innovate. Our members are doing powerful work to solve some of the biggest problems we face. World Climate, for example, is dedicated to accelerating solutions to climate change by facilitating large-scale collaboration between businesses, financiers, philanthropists and governments on regional, national and global actions. La Tradi is a social enterprise delivering pre-ordered breakfast boxes made from food surplus to business people, while also recruiting those who have slipped through the education system or found themselves homeless. Another, ORB, provide the most efficient and competitive finance available to developers and owners of renewable energy and infrastructure assets. Social enterprises and impact driven businesses, such as these, offer hope for a fairer, greener and more sustainable future.