Plant-Based Entrees Take Over San Francisco Office's Menu

Published on : 11/30/22
  • At a widely known company’s office in San Francisco, Chef Alicia Jenish-Mc Carron was secretly turning the employee cafeteria menu upside down. Initially, she said, no one noticed when she and her culinary team started replacing meat with plant-based entrees.

    I started using things like ube, mushrooms and different greens and really did deep dives into different recipes, she said at a recent climate tech conference hosted by GreenBiz in San Jose, California.

    Jenish-Mc Carron is the Good Eating Company’s culinary director at Linkedin San Francisco. She worked with nonprofit Greener By Default and LinkedIn to nudge the company’s employees to eat climate-friendly food with a fresh menu concept pilot program. By incorporating more plant-based meals and making products like oat milk in-house, Jenish-Mc Carron and her team saved costs while raising the bar for employee foodservice.

    The slow rollout is really what made it successful, she says.

    They started by gradually introducing more vegetarian entrees and reducing beef and lamb-based menu options. In the second month of the program, employee menus had a one-to-one ratio of meat-based to vegetarian entrees, and oat milk was offered by default. By the third month, the majority of entrees offered to employees at LinkedIn were vegetarian.

    Making oat milk instead of buying it saves $55,000 a year, Jenish-Mc Carron says. Buying the plant-based beverage also brought in nearly a ton of cardboard each month, which is now avoided instead of recycled.

    Meanwhile, Jenish-Mc Carron says employee feedback was positive once they announced the changes and sought comments. Diner satisfaction ratings remained the same before and after the pilot. The program has since expanded to New York City, Chicago and Silicon Valley to test how different demographics will react to the change.

    Jenish-Mc Carron and Good Eating Company rely on locally sourced food to create sustainable, enticing menus for corporate environments. Good Eating Company is part of Sodexo’s range of workplace dining solutions.