For many people across the globe, a large portion of our days are spent at work; in fact, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime1. That is a lot of food and drink consumed during working hours, especially when food is offered at workplace canteens and cafeterias, through catering companies for meetings, as well as in common rooms shared by staff where snacks and certain food items are made readily available.
With this in mind, it is imperative that a workplace prioritises offering healthy food that supports animal welfare and sustainability. Whether or not a company or organisation works directly with animals, climate, or environmental protection, it has a powerful influencing factor by offering food that contributes towards a thriving planet. By choosing to serve primarily plant-based options, you are sending a message to your employees, customers, and competitors that you care about the welfare of animals, the environment, as well as public health.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5%2 and 16.5%3 of all manmade GHG emissions. These emissions originate from livestock farming alone and use a significant amount of land and water.
- Plant-based food is the most animal-friendly because it doesn't involve the exploitation and suffering of animals. Unfortunately, many animals raised for food are kept in cramped, dirty conditions, and subjected to cruel treatment.
- Consuming less animals is also healthier because the diet is typically lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. Plus, it is higher in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, it can improve energy levels, mental clarity, and overall health, as well as reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- By providing plant-based meals, not only are you offering food that everyone can eat, but you are also reducing your company’s carbon footprint, contributing to a kinder world for animals, and showing your employees that you value their health and wellbeing.
To help foster more of an animal-friendly diet at the workplace, FOUR PAWS recommends implementing the 3Rs principle:
- Reducing the consumption of meat, fish, and other foods of animal-origin.
- Refining the diet by choosing products from high animal welfare production systems.
- Replacing meat, dairy, and eggs in the diet with plant-based alternatives.
- Put up posters or have leaflets and/or information printed out and put up in the common areas to inform employees about the benefits of the 3Rs Principle as well as tips on how they can implement this both at work and at home.
- Offer a basket of fresh fruit to your employees once a week.
- For staff rooms, or common kitchen areas where snacks, tea, and coffee are made available, ensure that these include plant-based varieties as well as plant-based milk.
- When planning internal or external meetings with colleagues, find a catering service that offers plant-based meals. Apart from taking note of any allergies employees might have, plant-based food is something all can enjoy.
- Collaborate with restaurants in your area that offer plant-based options. Perhaps discounts or different weekly menus are available for company accounts. If in doubt, reach out to a local vegan organisation for catering and restaurant recommendations to assist in finding these services. There are apps which you can use for this, such as HappyCow.
- Collaborate with animal-friendly companies that might have special promotions/discounts of their products such as snacks, beverages, take-out meals, etc. that employees can benefit from.
- Take the opportunity to actively involve your employees to sign up for Veganuary. They can exchange ideas and celebrate other’s successes.
- If you have an online internal platform for employees to open and run groups, encourage them to share ideas as well as recipes.
- Employees might like to take turns bringing in a home-cooked meal free from animal ingredients to share.
- Have clear office guidelines explaining the company’s purchasing policy that animal and climate friendly food is prioritised.
Food for thought
If you are a non-profit organisation where funds are based on donor’s money, be mindful of how it is spent and what it would be endorsing.
By implementing some or all of the above, you can set an example for others to follow and contribute to a more just, sustainable, and compassionate world. Whether or not you are responsible for the catering in your company, FOUR PAWS encourages you to speak up and express your desire for a positive change.
2. Gerber PJ, Steinfeld H, Henderson B, Mottet A, Opio C, Dijkman J, Falcucci A, Tempio G. Tackling climate change through livestock: a global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Tackling climate change through livestock: a global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. 2013 [accessed 2023 Feb 6]. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/20133417883
3. Eisen MB, Brown PO. Rapid global phaseout of animal agriculture has the potential to stabilize greenhouse gas levels for 30 years and offset 68 percent of CO2 emissions this century. PLOS Climate. 2022;1(2):e0000010. doi:10.1371/journal.pclm.0000010