I go to lots of conferences, unconferences, hackdays, and tech events. As a vegetarian, I'm used to being relegated to second-class when it comes to event catering. If I'm lucky, I get some cheese sandwiches mingled with a plate of meaty snacks.
That's why I was overjoyed at ODF Plugfest Rome when the organisers made this announcement:
"All lunch boxes will be vegan (so that everyone can eat everything)"
— ꧁Terence Eden꧂ ⏻ (@edent) October 11, 2017
It was such a thoughtful thing for the event to do. We each got some fresh pasta, some salad, fruit, biscuits. Lovely!
(As an aside, yes, allergies and intolerances were catered for separately.)
Everyone I spoke to at the event was happy with the food. I didn't notice anyone sneaking off to one of the hundreds of pizza restaurants in the vicinity.
As someone who has run large scale events before, I think making an event mono-culinary is an excellent idea.
- Cheaper. Vegan / Veggie food is cheaper than meaty alternatives. A huge consideration when running a community event trying to cater for a few hundred people.
- Logistically easier. I've lost count of the number of events I've been to where organisers have misplaced the details of who has requested which meal, or where meat-eaters have accidentally polished off the food meant for veggies.
- Suitable for nearly all dietary preferences - vegetarian, Kosher, Halal, Hinduism, Buddhism. Means not having to quiz people on their ethical beliefs.
- Healthier. A typical hackathon just provides pizza and beer. That's fun, but not always the healthiest option available.
If you're planning on catering for a mass event, have a think about whether only providing vegan food will be a sensible and inclusive way to feed your attendees.
Here be dragons
Lots of people are psychologically addicted to meat. When you politely suggest they skip meat for a single meal, they have an extreme reaction. A huge amount of marketing money has been spent on associating meat with masculinity. This causes a form of castration-anxiety when people are "threatened" with a salad.
It's a little silly seeing grown adults tremble at the thought of vegetables, but that's the power of marketing!