Founded in 2010 by entrepreneurs Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, WeWork is a shared workspace that freelancers, startups and even large enterprises can rent. Conceived during the financial crisis of 2008, the founders had a simple idea aimed to pair abandoned buildings with local entrepreneurs looking for work spaces without the hefty price tag. Notable WeWork users include Reddit and Fitocracy, and WeWork now even offers advisors from major companies like PepsiCo to some of its users.
Recently, WeWork made headlines for its radical new no meat policy. In an effort to diminish its global footprint, WeWork has consistently implemented strategies to reduce plastic usage in addition to decreasing food waste after company events by donating remains to local groups and causes. With the recent scrutiny of diet consumption on our health and our environmental footprint, the New York based startup is also implementing a meat ban. In what is being addressed as an effort to minimize personal environmental impact, WeWork recently released a statement about its plans to stop reimbursing or expensing meals with meat in addition to no longer offering red meat, poultry or pork at company sponsored events. In a company-wide memo to its 6,000 global employees, co-founder Miguel McKelvey discussed how new research shows that this effort can reduce environmental impact “even more than switching to a hybrid car.” Although many have refuted this idea that WeWork is eliminating meat for environmental causes, its efforts seem to resonate with the small minority that finds meat both harmful to health and carbon emissions.
In 2005, Dr. Colin Campbell’s The China Study was instrumental in really delving into the impact our diet has on our health and the ability to potentially reverse health issues simply by being strategic about our consumption through a plant-based diet. The study was so influential that even former President Bill Clinton in 2010 started to follow a plant-based diet in hopes to decrease arterial blockage after his bypass surgery. Since then, numerous studies and documentaries have been released on the impact of meat however not just on our health but also on carbon emissions including the film, Cowspiracy, which was produced by well-known vegetarian actor, Leonardo di Caprio.
In 2015, Cowspiracy aimed to investigate the environmental impact of animal agriculture – more specifically beef. Although highly controversial, the film’s shocking claims prompted a more thorough look into the impact raising and harvesting meat has on carbon emissions, water use and deforestation, including a recent study by Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek published in the highly reputable journal Science a little over a month ago.
In an effort to gain a better idea of the global footprint of producing food, Poore and Nemecek investigated the impact of 38,000 farms producing 40 different types of food in 119 different countries on environmental factors like water consumption, land usage and gas emissions. Their research conclusions: not all farms producing the same product create the same environmental footprint but even the smallest impact animal agriculture farm creates a significantly more harmful environmental footprint than the greatest impact vegetable farm. The researchers estimate that on average, producing 100g of protein from beef (approximately 4 beef patties) leads to the release of 50 kg of greenhouse gas emissions. Contrastingly, producing 100g of protein from tofu produces on average just 2 kg of greenhouse gases. That’s 96% less greenhouse gases being emitted when producing plant-based protein!
Poore & Nemecek’s recent research is pivotal in articulating the effects of animal versus plant-based agriculture making it even easier to adopt what many Indian’s have been practicing for centuries – a plant-based diet. So while some might argue that it may just be a ploy to cut costs, the new WeWork meat embargo could potentially reduce its greenhouse gas emissions of its 6000 employees by up to 35% by simply replacing half of their animal consumption with plant alternatives. And that is something we definitely can get behind 👏🏽.