Where’s the beef?

Austin coworking giant sticks a fork in company-bought meat

Austin coworking giant sticks a fork in company-bought meat

Southside Market meats
Meat is no longer allowed on WeWork's company dime. Photo by Rachel Bracewell

Global coworking giant WeWork, which operates five locations in Austin, has a bone to pick with meat. In a bid to ease environmental burdens, the company has barred red meat, pork, and poultry from being served at WeWork-sponsored events or being purchased on WeWork’s dime.

In an email originally obtained by CNN, that word of the meat-free policy came via a memo from WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey.

“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,” McKelvey wrote.

WeWork employees and members still can eat meat at the company’s coworking sites, as long as the company doesn’t pay for it, according to media reports. Also, WeWork members can serve meat they’ve purchased on their own at events held at WeWork locations.

However, reimbursement for purchases of hamburgers, steaks, chicken, or any other meat made on behalf of the company will vanish from WeWork expense reports. And meat products will disappear from self-service food and drink kiosks at roughly 400 WeWork locations.

“We have made a commitment to be a meat-free organization,” McKelvey declared.

McKelvey’s memo cites research indicating that WeWork can save an estimated 16.7 billion gallons of water, 445.1 million pounds of carbon emissions, and more than 15 million animals by 2023 thanks to the meat ban.

Slate.com writer Felix Salmon (yes, Salmon) labeled the meat prohibition “tyrannical.” He complained that from a cultural standpoint, the WeWork policy makes little sense. 

“If office managers want to serve delicious and healthy vegetarian food for their employees, that’s fantastic, but the ease of doing so, and the degree to which those employees will embrace the meal, varies wildly from city to city and from country to country,” Salmon wrote.

In Austin, Facebook users reacted to the no-meat mantra with the same fervor that Franklin Barbecue customers would if the famed barbecue joint ran out of brisket before they finally reached the front of the line.

“I get it, but how’s this going to work in Austin, one of the BBQ meccas of the world???” one local Facebook user wondered.

Yet another Facebook user in Austin promised to take this action: “Next time I get a chance to work at WeWork, I’m going to go get a large order of BBQ from Coopers to-go and eat it there.”