By Sarah Halzack, Published: May 12 – the washington post
Carrie Clyne’s last job was in an office that feasted on a steady supply of junk food. Donuts in the mornings and cupcakes for staffers’ birthdays were the familiar routine.
But in January, when she took a position with nonprofit organizationPhysicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, she was pleasantly surprised by her new employer’s decidedly different attitude toward food.
PCRM has an office policy mandating that only vegan food may be eaten in its office. The organization, which advocates for healthy eating, preventive medicine and ethical clinical research, is so committed to the rule that it notifies prospective employees of the policy when they receive an offer letter for a job.
PCRM decided to go vegan for a simple reason.
“We want to practice what we preach,” said Susan Levin, the group’s director of nutrition education.
For Clyne, it was a relatively easy transition because she was already a vegan. But she still appreciated how devoted the whole team was to a plant-based diet.
“I feel like we all motivate and encourage each other,” Clyne said.
The staff at the District-based organization help one another enjoy the diet in a variety of ways: They exchange recipes, share their finds for tasty vegan dishes at lunch spots near the office, and take turns making breakfast smoothies for each other in the mornings.
PCRM’s strategy is a different twist on a familiar approach to workplace wellness. In recent years, many employers have been using team challenges or social activities to create incentives for exercising. At PCRM, the built-in community of co-workers is being leveraged to encourage staffers to improve the way they eat.
Adapting to a vegan office environment required varied levels of adjustment for PCRM’s 64 employees.
Levin said about one-third of staffers were already eating a fully vegan diet before coming to PCRM. Another third, Levin estimates, were “some of the way there,” perhaps eating a vegetarian diet. For the rest, the diet was likely a big lifestyle change.
The notification employees get when they’re hired is the only direct messaging they receive about the vegan dietary policy.
“There’s no proselytizing,” Levin said.
And if someone chooses not to eat vegan at home, there’s no pressure to change that. (Levin described their approach on this as “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”)
Several employees say they have noticed positive health changes since they began working at PCRM and embracing the group’s approach to eating.