Coworking rental space tech startup WeWork made a bold move this week by announcing that the company will no longer serve meat at its corporate events and its 6,000 employees won’t be able to expense meals that include red meat, pork, or poultry (though fish is allowed). The policy change was made to counter the negative environmental effects of eating meat.
This is no small deal. Founded in New York City in 2010, the company now manages more than 10 million square feet of office space around the world.“New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact, even more than switching to a hybrid car,” WeWork cofounder Miguel McElvey wrote in an email to staffers.
A WeWork spokesperson told The Guardian that they aren’t trying to dictate what foods WeWork staffers or those using their office space eat, simply what the company will pay for. “Members and employees are welcome to bring in meat for meals, and members are welcome to serve meat at events they host,” the spokesperson said. Those who request meat for “medical or religious” reasons will be “referred to the company’s policy team to discuss options,” according to Bloomberg.
This may be about more than environmental altruism akin to Starbucks’ plastic straw ban, some experts have argued. Virginia Postrel at Bloomberg noted that this is first and foremost a business decision, a way for WeWork to stand out from is corporate peers. “The meat ban is an exercise in brand building,” she wrote. “Nothing says ‘We’re a tribe’ like food taboos. Dietary restrictions establish boundaries and define identity.”
Animal Rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) praised the move, while pushing for further action. They wrote in a blog post, “PETA applauds WeWork for its righteous action. We hope this will lead the company to establish a 100 percent vegan policy in the near future.”
While giving up meat may make you live longer, it’s unclear how the employees of WeWork will react to this new no-meat mandate. And if you’re looking to follow in WeWork’s footsteps, consider eating these 50 meatless dishes.