WeWork Ditches Meat at the Office — Will Other Companies Follow Suit?

Businesses ranging from small neighborhood coffee shops to start-ups and multi-national corporations have experimented with sustainability initiatives as for at least the past couple of decades. These innovative companies can make a massive, immediate impact with one small change to their supply chain — like Starbucks’ recent pledge to phase out single-use plastic straws.

But younger and smaller companies often implement more radical policies that can be at least as impactful — if only by providing a test case for what is possible — and challenging other companies to step up. Enter 10-year-old WeWork, which provides pop-up work spaces and technical infrastructure related to office jobs and the information economy.

The company is now making headlines because it has targeted an area of opportunity that most businesses wouldn’t touch: employee eating habits.

A typical American diet, which is extremely high in meat compared to most other countries and most of human history, is tied to the large-scale factory farming used to support it. Modern meat agriculture comes with a serious cost: environmental and public health risks, huge greenhouse gas emissions and animal cruelty.

Being more mindful of our diet can go a long way to reducing our carbon footprint. But for a company to tell its employees to forgo meat may seem a little contentious.

The CNN article about WeWork’s new initiative rather provocatively states that the company is “going meat-free, taking every one of its employees with it.” CNN also notes that a “failed start-up” had previously attempted to enforce veganism on its employees.

While I can’t deny that some employees may object, it’s important to note that WeWork is only refusing to pay for meat products at company events and work lunches. No one is being forced to sign a pledge of veganism.

We also live in a different culinary world than we did 20 years ago. We’re more connected to a wide range of food, including more diverse food options in our grocery stores and restaurants and new vegetarian and vegan interpretations of classic dishes. It is neither difficult nor unenjoyable to have a meal without meat — especially when someone else is paying for it.

I don’t know what inspired WeWork to make this change, though I can guess. Given that the company doesn’t manufacture or ship many physical goods, the most obvious areas for improving sustainability involve its large labor force. Higher-ups may have also realized that this is essentially a free change with a big impact. They’re providing food anyway — why not make better choices with their purchases ?

Could there be a domino effect, with many employees becoming inspired to go full vegetarian? Maybe not, which is fine. Employee health will certainly benefit, even if workers never opt for an entirely plant-based diet. And that has value in and of itself.

Photo Credit: Kyler Boone/Unsplash

126 comments

KimJ M
KimJ M17 days ago

I'm sick of racist meat eaters always criticizing Asian dining choices while they themselves chow down on animals they consider 'appropriate` for eating.
It's no more horrifying or despicable to eat a dog or cat than it is to eat a cow, pig, lamb or chicken. :(((

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KimJ M
KimJ M17 days ago

Shocking: Study Finds Public Knows Nothing About Factory Farming. - https://mercyforanimals.org/shocking-new-study-finds-public-knows-nothing ---- Farm to Fridge - The Truth Behind Meat Production - WARNING Disturbing content. Viewer discretion is advised - https://vimeo.com/115851762

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KimJ M
KimJ M17 days ago

A staggering ~70 BILLION farm animals are reared worldwide for food every year ----- PLEASE TAKE ACTION TO STOP FARMAGEDDON - https://www.ciwf.org.uk/books/farmageddon-the-true-cost-of-cheap-meat/take-action-to-stop-farmageddon/

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KimJ M
KimJ M17 days ago

Avoiding meat and dairy is `single biggest way` to reduce your impact on Earth -
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth

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Amanda M
Amanda McConnell1 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda McConnell1 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Chad A
Chad Anderson1 months ago

Thank you.

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Winn A
Winn A1 months ago

Noted

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Amanda M
Amanda McConnell1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda McConnell1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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