The office rental company WeWork told employees on Friday that it will no longer serve meat at company events and will not reimburse employees for meals containing meat. Employees needing a medical or religious exemption were referred to WeWork’s policy team.
WeWork’s co-founder Miguel McKelvey wrote the ban is intended to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, Business Insider reports. The company estimates banning meat will save "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."
"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," said McKelvey.
WeWork’s decision comes in the wake of decisions by companies like American Airlines and Starbucks to ban plastic straws because of their detrimental effect on oceans.
Starbucks has faced pushback from disability rights groups that believe the new policy could be detrimental to many disabled individuals. "Eliminating plastic straws can cause many people with disabilities like myself not to be able to eat or drink in a restaurant, in a cafe … it’s more than just a convenience. It is a necessity for people like us," said Sharon Shapiro-Lacks, a board member of the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled.
In response to concerns, Starbucks made it clear that the company would offer straws to those who need or ask for them.
Despite the meat ban, WeWork’s McKelvay promised there would be tasty meat-free food at the company’s annual summer gathering. "In just the three days we are together, we estimate that we can save more than 10,000 animals. The team has worked hard to create a sustainable, plentiful, and delicious menu."
Founded in 2010, WeWork is currently valued at about $20 billion. It provides work spaces to freelancers, small businesses, and other companies.