For some years, Google have been focused on the sustainability of their business. The internet giant has been carbon neutral for the past 10 years and this year they will start operating using 100% renewable energy sources. These are some big achievements! Not wanting to fall behind the times, however, Google have started looking to other ways of reducing their carbon footprint and their negative impact on the environment, so this time they’re focussing on the stomachs of their employees.
For anyone who works at Google’s campus in Sunnyvale, CA lunchtime is likely to be an exciting part of the day. Not only does Google offer all its employees working on the campus lunch for free, but there are a myriad of different dishes and cuisines to choose from. In an effort to be kinder to the planet, Google buy up ‘ugly’ vegetables, that would otherwise go to waste, for use in their kitchens. Recently, however, they have been focusing on ways in which to encourage their employees to make plant-based choices during their lunch hour.
Over the past year, Google have been working with a non-profit organisation called Better Buying Lab with the aim of introducing more plant-based and vegan dishes onto their menu. The main aim of Better Buying Lab is to develop systems and strategies that allow people to more easily reduce their meat consumption. They understand that although many people in the USA and the UK are keen to make food choices that are more sustainable, it can be difficult for people to change their habits.
One theory in the quest to encouraging the consumption of plant-based dishes is that dishes need to be developed that offer an alternative to ‘power dishes’ that appear on North American menus. This includes things like chicken sandwiches and salmon. In order to tackle this issue, Google have developed a plant-based taco which they will offer in their cafeteria. They have also started to place plant-based menu items at the top of each of their menus.
Aside from purely plant-based dishes, Google’s Sunnyvale campus also now offers meals that still include meat protein but rely less heavily on it, usually these dishes contain 20 percent – 30 percent less meat than the original dishes. One example of this is the burger which has been blended with mushroom in order to reduce the amount of meat in the dish.
For a giant like Google, who are currently worth over $1 billion, to recognise the link between sustainability and the types of food that people are consuming is huge and could lead to a number of changes.
They describe themselves as a ‘global company’ whose ‘goal is to give everyone everywhere the tools and opportunities they need to play their own part in protecting the planet.’ Already they share technology which would allow other people to play their part in protecting the planet and promoting a sustainable lifestyle. Could they lead the way in changing food habits worldwide? It’s certainly a step in the right direction.