Can you give us a short summary on the business case for implementing a plant-centered workplace?
The business case is straightforward. The whole-food, plant-based diet is the only dietary pattern shown to prevent and reverse chronic diseases. Healthcare costs continue to outpace inflation, and productivity is stagnant. So it’s logical to lower healthcare costs and increase productivity. A healthy workforce uses fewer healthcare dollars and has more energy; that can make a big difference to the bottom line. In addition to the human health benefits, there is no question about the impact of animal agriculture on the planet in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, soil and water pollution, and threats to biodiversity. Most companies do not consider animal agriculture in their sustainability or corporate social responsibility reports today. This is a major blind spot for companies who say they care about the planet for future generations.
What has been the feedback so far from readers of the book?
The feedback from those who already follow a plant-based (or plant-centered) diet has been very favorable. They already get it and have recommended it to others in their company.
I’ve had conversations with different CEOs and business leaders about transitioning to more of a plant-based workplace. The feedback they’ve given me is that they agree with what I’ve written, but just aren’t ready to make a change in that direction. They are concerned about the backlash from managers and employees who want to maintain the status quo. With that said, it is encouraging to see companies like WeWork, Google, Sodexo and others make meaningful progress towards a plant-forward workplace. The key to a successful implementation is having a strategy and well thought out change management plan.
Forbes said “plant-based” would be a top trend in 2019. How do you see the corporate world currently developing regarding plant-based? Where do you think the journey will go?
The future of food is plant-based. The only widely available animal products 20 years from now will be lab-grown (or cultured) meats, and insects. The visionary leaders of today who make the connection between human and planetary health will be proactive in changing the food environment to be more plant-based over this next decade. They will engage employees, perhaps their Veg Employee Resource (or Affinity) Group if they have one, to put a strategy and plan together that moves them in the right direction. Some changes can be made fairly quickly without much drama—such as not charging extra for plant-based milks at coffee shops, or swapping out beef for beans in a weekly chili special. Other changes, such as replacing the daily option of a beef burger for the plant-based Beyond Burger or Impossible Burger, would benefit from a more thoughtful approach to increase employee desire and acceptance. After enough of these visionary leaders make progress, their momentum will encourage other business leaders to follow suit.