… Meatless meat companies might need cattle to succeed…



5 revelations from a talk with Temple Grandin


Deonna Anderson, GreenBiz

February 10, 2020


If there was one phrase I remember from my time in Scottsdale, Arizona, for GreenBiz 20, it is, "The suits have got to get out of the office.”


Those were the words uttered repetitively by Temple Grandin, the animal behaviorist who helped McDonald's develop strategies for treating beef more humanely, when she spoke to a room of more than 1,500 sustainability veterans, emerging leaders and everyone in between.


But that is not the only point I took away from her solo talk that was followed by a conversation with GreenBiz Executive Editor Joel Makower. Here’s more context for her call-to-action for the suits and other key takeaways from Grandin’s time on the GreenBiz 20 mainstage.


1. The suits have got to get out of the office and on the ground.


People in the C-suite of companies that are trying to do sustainability work need to make decisions that are informed by what they see in real life. That means leaving their offices and seeing how people in different parts of the company are doing their work.


"I don’t care what industry it is," Grandin said, with a response of clapping from the crowd. "[They need to find out] what’s going on on the ground."


Grandin is a visual thinker. This sentiment of getting on the ground echoes her message that we need all types of thinkers to solve problems. When people — even more so for those who are visual thinkers — see what the issues are with their own eyes, they can better assess the situation and figure out how to fix it.


2. Companies sometimes implement solutions that are supposed to be sustainable. But in actuality, they aren’t …


3. Pay on farms needs to increase ...


4. Meatless meat companies might need cattle to succeed. But you can’t overwork them


Grandin is "a big believer" in regenerative agriculture. "Animals are part of the light," she said, referencing a breakout session that she attended the morning of her talk. During that session, she learned about a farm using chicken manure to fertilize vegetable crops.


"That’s part of regenerative agriculture," Grandin said. "[Animals] are part of the land but we’ve got to use them right."


Similar to the point raised in implementing sustainable solutions, they have to be done thoughtfully and with intention.


"The thing that people don’t do is what’s optimal. OK, you have a cow produce tons and tons of milk but she has difficulty breathing," Temple said. "You see… what’s optimal, not maximal?"


5. Write about the work you’re doing and include details about how it’s getting done ...


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