May 19, 2015

Shrinking Our Carbon Footprint: Mountainfilm Goes Meatless in 2015

This year, Mountainfilm is trying something new: We’re going meatless.

Of course you’ll still find non-vegetarian fare in Telluride’s restaurants, but at 2015’s festival-sanctioned events we’re introducing a meat-free menu. Why? Because conventionally raised meat is a high-impact food that contributes to climate change (accounting for more direct greenhouse gas emissions overall than all the world’s vehicles, trains, ships and planes combined) and requires a whopping 30 percent of the water footprint in the United States. Those seem like pretty good reasons to us.

We recognize that consuming grass-fed locally raised meat does not pose the same environmental problems as conventionally raised meat. Perennial grasslands sequester carbon and with intensive rotational grazing techniques, animals can greatly enhance the growth and propagation of grasses. It’s been found that one acre of healthy grass pasture sequesters more carbon than an acre of trees. Pastured animals also benefit soils in several ways. Soils rich in organic matter hold more moisture, thereby requiring less irrigated water. A healthy soil provides a healthy home for microbes and other living organisms vital to our health and the health of the planet. And this bio-diversity is what soil scientists say will help reverse the effects of climate change.

But given what we do — hosting a high-altitude festival in remote Telluride, Colorado, where we feed thousands of people over the weekend — we aren't able to source all of our meat from local farmers who pasture their animals. But we know we still have a lot of work to do to reduce our environmental impact and are open to suggestions.

Meanwhile, we aren’t trying to instill a dogmatic diet or deprive anyone of protein or iron at the Filmmakers Dinner, Moving Mountains Symposium lunch or Closing Picnic & Awards Ceremony with this plan, but not serving meat at these large gatherings will have a big impact on reducing our overall impact.

(Don’t worry. It’s going to be delicious.)

Let the festivities begin! Happy #mfilm15!

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