WeWork’s Meat Ban Tells Us Who They Are

WeWork’s Meat Ban Tells Us Who They Are, by Virginia Postrel.

WeWork Cos., the SoftBank Group Corp.-backed startup that rents out co-working and office space, recently told its 6,000 employees worldwide that it won’t pay for any meals that include red meat, poultry or pork. It justified the policy as environmentally friendly. …

Intentionally or not, there’s more going on. The meat ban is an exercise in brand building.

In today’s “meaning economy,” what we buy carries value-laden significance. It defines our identity and marks our tribe.

The shift from function to meaning as a source of economic value also shapes who works where. Instead of trying to be blandly inoffensive, workplaces embody the cultural values of their tribe. That’s why we see Google employees refusing to work on Defense Department projects or companies boycotting the National Rifle Association.

Nothing says “We’re a tribe” like food taboos. Dietary restrictions establish boundaries and define identity. Think of kosher food and Jews, halal meat and Muslims, vegetarianism and Brahmins — or the cultural differences between completely secular vegans and paleo diet devotees.

Declaring you’re part of a political tribe usually alienates potential customers of other tribes more than it draws more customers from your own tribe, which is why businesses traditionally don’t advertise their politics. This new trend is just part of the excessive virtue signaling of the modern left. Hence the rising incidence of the phrase “get woke, go broke.” Or it could be that the left so dominates the ruling class that they figure everyone who matters is in their political tribe.