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

111 comments

danii p
danii p10 hours ago

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danii p
danii p10 hours ago

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danii p
danii p10 hours ago

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Amanda M
Amanda M2 days ago

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Amanda M
Amanda M2 days ago

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Karen M
Karen Martinez9 days ago

Interesting article. Where I worked, any time we had a school supplied meal, it meant firing up the massive BBQ pit and grilling burgers or chicken. Not the healthiest of options.

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John W
John W10 days ago

Thanks

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Amanda McConnell
Amanda M12 days ago

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Amanda McConnell
Amanda M12 days ago

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Danii P
Past Member 12 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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