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Can Companies Ban Meat for their Employees?


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Jul 17, 2018

Can Companies Ban Meat for their Employees?

A New York City-based company that creates “co-working spaces” in over 20 countries is taking on a new initiative: a ban on meat.  WeWorks recently issued a ban on all meat products for its 6,000 + employees.  That is, their events will no longer offer meat, and employees will not be reimbursed when buying red meat, poultry, and pork.  WeWork is no small company; being worth approximately $20 billion, this announcement affects many people and makes a strong statement towards environmentally friendly behaviors.

Miguel McKelvey, a co-founder of WeWork, sent an email to all of his employees to announce the ban.  In this email, he states “an estimated 16.7 billion gallons of water, 445.1 million pounds (201.9 million kg) of CO2 emissions and over 15 million animals by 2023 (will be saved) by eliminating meat at our events.”  These numbers are staggering, and the ban begins immediately.  The WeWork “Summer Camp” event will not have any meat options.  In response to this, McKelvey states “In just the three days we are together, we estimate that we can save more than 10,000 animals.”  

This CNN article mentions other companies’ aims to achieve sustainability and reduce waste (such as Starbucks ban on plastic straws); however, WeWork’s new model seems more extreme than that.  There have been bolder pushes for environmental sustainability such as companies like Nootrobox that called for “intermittent fasting each Thursday.”  However, WeWork’s ban does not seem to be a pilot or “test run”; this ban impacts their employees every day.   

Some see the benefits from this call to action such as reduced carbon dioxide emissions while saving a tremendous amount of water and animals.  The company is not forcing employees to change their lifestyle outside of the workplace and work events; it is only on “work time” they must adhere to these rules.  Others claim initiatives that call for a widespread ban on products or services eliminate choice and act as a controlling, rather than guiding, regulation.  Decisions, like this one to eliminate meat, can be encouraged by companies but should be made on an individual basis.  Personal decisions, such as dietary ones, should not be forced by anyone other than the individual him/herself.   

What do you think?  Is WeWork doing the right thing by banning meat?  Does promoting environmental sustainability outweigh individual choice?  Would you work for WeWork even after this decision?


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