WeWork case study.
In a bold move, WeWork announced it’s now a vegetarian! This follows their announcement of the Zero Plastic initiative, further proving their commitment to be a more sustainable company. Evidence of the environmental benefits of a meat-free and plant-based diet are mounting. WeWork has taken a pioneering stance on the issue of diet and sustainability in the corporate sector.
WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey stated that the company could save “an estimated 16.7 billion gallons of water, 445.1 million pounds of CO2 emissions and over 15 million animals by 2023 by eliminating meat at our events.”
McKelvey went on to state, “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.”
This move is part of a massive shift in the business environment towards corporate responsibility. One of the frameworks often used is called the “Triple Bottom Line,” referring to the fact that corporations need to consider more than the single bottom line (profits), and include their human/social impact (people) as well as environmental impact (planet) in order to be a responsible company.
I applaud WeWork’s move as a terrific step in the right direction. I urge more companies to follow suit by removing the purchase of all animal products from their budget. Gigi Carter makes a compelling case for all corporations to do so in her compelling and practical book, The Plant-Based Workplace. I would go so far as to assert that the triple bottom line is in fact, vegan. And here’s why:
The evolution of humans relies on us having a healthy planet, yet we’re bombarded with daily reminders of her ailing health. We are in the midst of an existential crisis, and it’s our responsibility to act swiftly. What is the single most impactful action you can take to preserve our planet? Eat a plant-based diet.
A person who follows a plant-based diet produces 50% less CO2, and uses 1/11ththe oil, 1/13ththe water, and 1/18thland compared with a meat eater. Here are some more startling statistics.
- Animal agriculture is the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gases. 51% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture: more than all forms of transportation combined!
- Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by farmed animals in the US alone.
- A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
- 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef! And 1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of cow’s milk!
- 1.5 acres of land can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based foods; that same 1.5 acres can only produce 375 pounds of beef.
- As many as 2.7 trillion animals are taken from the oceans each year for consumption. Because of the unchecked pillaging of ocean populations, we could see fishless oceans by 2048.
About a billion people on our planet are currently suffering from hunger. However, we are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people! In 2013, scientists from the Institute on the Environment and the University of Minnesota published a study examining agricultural resources (including meat, dairy, and egg production) and the dilemma of world hunger. The scientists reached the conclusion that if all food crops were fed directly to humans instead of animals, around 70% more food would be added to the world’s supply, which would be enough to feed 3 billion additional people.
The overwhelming proportion of animal foods come from factory farms, whose conditions are almost as deplorable for the humans working there as they are for the animals confined there. In the US for example, over 95% of farmed animals are raised in factory farms. The animal agriculture industry cannot find people to work in the hazardous conditions who have any other options. Their facilities are intentionally placed in low-income communities and the workers are disproportionately undocumented workers.
“Factory farm workers are consistently exposed to a variety of harmful gases and particulate matter and also suffer from repetitive stress injuries. The resulting health effects are well documented and include chronic aches and pains, respiratory disorders, cardiovascular complications and premature death.” In addition, the brutal nature of the work often creates psychological trauma.
In addition, there is overwhelming scientifc evidence supporting the health benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet. Every preventable chronic disease is linked to the consumption of animal products, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Conversely, following a whole foods plant based diet (a vegan diet free of processed foods) can prevent and even help reverse many chronic diseases. Diet and lifestyle factors have been proven far more indicative of chronic disease than genetics. Here are a few excellent resources to check out:
- Nutrition Facts by Dr. Greger
- Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine
- Forks Over Knives (film and web resources)
From a financial perspective, employers would greatly benefit by promoting whole foods plant-based diets for their employees. I urge employers to stop the purchase of animal products for their employees and instead convert in-house cafeterias and all catering to vegan meals. Follow a whole foods plant-based diet leads to lower healthcare costs, higher energy, better overall health, and fewer missed days.
The overwhelmingly negative impacts of animal agriculture on people and the planet cannot be justified any longer as a part of responsible, sustainable business practices. The triple bottom line must include consideration of the consumption of animal products and its impact to the planet and its inhabitants. It’s too costly to overlook this inconvenient truth any longer.