Maggie Baird was an early adapter. Her father, a hunter, inadvertently introduced her and her brothers to the relationship between meat and animals at an early age, inspiring them all to become vegetarians. Baird, the founder of the nonprofit Support+Feed and the mother of Billie Eilish and FINNEAS, initially gave up meat around 1976 for the animals. A few years later she stumbled upon an infographic on how much of the Amazon rainforest has been decimated for each McDonald’s hamburger.
“I also had the book ‘Diet for a Small Planet,’ and so those were the places where I made the connection between animal agriculture and the environment, which of course led to climate change,” Baird told Pollstar. “In 1981, we knew already. We knew what was going to happen. We just didn’t do enough to change it.”
Baird is determined to contribute to solutions rather than pile on as part of the problem. She founded Support+Feed in the early days of the pandemic after Eilish had to pull her world tour. They had embarked on a mission to execute a highly sustainable tour incorporating plant-based meals for their whole team through each venue they passed through. With schools, shelters, programs and more shut down during COVID, they realized they could bring their food to those in need. Their plan evolved into an ongoing partnership with many community organizations including Watts-Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club of Metro Los Angeles, My Friend’s Place, Sisters of Watts and more to provide plant-based meals purchased from local restaurants.
As touring returned, Baird and Support+ Feed continued with their efforts, delivering nourishing plant-based meals to community organizations in cities along Eilish’s tour and inviting fans on the “Happier Than Ever Tour” to sign a pledge to commit to one plant-based meal a day. Eilish’s own crew also dines on three plant-based meals a day. Other artists, including Paramore, have incorporated Support+Feed on their tours, the organization now a part of REVERB’s Eco Village. Pharrell featured Support+Feed at his Something in the Water festival with the organization’s year-long meal delivery and education program in Virginia Beach, and other artists like Janelle Monáe have partnered with Support+Feed on past community events including her own community program, WondaLunch.
“I think it’s really an obligation of touring companies and touring artists to address forms of carbon offsets, but also forms of community offsets,” Baird says. “So that is what we offer for artists and touring companies. Fans care about climate change and artists care about their fans, and of course climate change and about the communities that are affected when you’re touring […] With Support+Feed, we can offer artists a chance to not only educate, inform and assist their fans in learning about climate change and how they can make a difference with plant-based foods, but we can provide meals in the community the tour has been, which is a real community offset in my opinion.”
While an artist oftentimes pops in and out of a town each night, the impact of their show can have a massive effect on those living nearby. Providing them with meals through Support+Feed allows artists to bring even more positive involvement to those in the surrounding areas.
Last year, Support+Feed managed to go global as Eilish brought them along on her international tour. The organization joined the REVERB Eco Village with Support+Feed visiting 10 cities including Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, New Orleans, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York City and London. They partnered with OzHarvest in Australia to provide plant-based consulting and education for the 52,000 meals that Eilish’s tour donated, the organization gaining an international footprint to emphasize plant-based eating across the globe.
For those unfamiliar with plant-based meals, a diet change can appear to be a major ask. Baird emphasizes that Support+Feed works to meet with people where they’re at and build new habits slowly. While some cities may find plant-based meals more affordable than places that sell meat and dairy, more rural areas might discover the opposite to be true. Sustainable eating becomes a huge effort, with fruits soaring in cost while milk, eggs and dairy remain more affordable due to government subsidies.
“We only ask people to try and eat at least one fully plant-based meal a day,” Baird says. “That seems like an entry point people can try to do. … The important thing is that solutions are out there. Artists have a platform to make a change, and Support+Feed is here and available to offer guidance to make tours more sustainable and impactful.”