WeWork bans meat: Unicorn startup will no longer reimburse non-veggie meals

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Meat is off the menu for the employees of one of the world’s hottest startups. WeWork, the shared office space provider valued at $20bn, has told its 6,000 staff it will not pay expenses for meals containing meat.

The policy was announced in an internal memo written by Miguel McKelvey, WeWork’s billionaire co-founder. “We have made a commitment to be a meat-free organization,” McKelvey wrote. “Moving forward, we will not serve or pay for meat at WeWork events and want to clarify that this includes poultry and pork, as well as red meat.”

McKelvey cited new research from the journal Science that "avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact". He added that the policy will “save an estimated 16.7 billion gallons of water, 445.1 million pounds of CO2 emissions, and over 15 million animals by 2023”.

A WeWork spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the new policy will remove red meat, poultry and pork from the expenses policy. The company was, however, “not prohibiting WeWork staff or members from bringing in meat-based meals they’ve paid for themselves”.

Members can also still host their own events at WeWork locations and serve meat they’ve paid for themselves. And fish is still covered by WeWork’s T&E policy.

WeWork’s new policy has inspired some criticism already. The UK’s largest union told the BBC that workers shouldn’t be punished for their dietary choices. "Employees should be encouraged to make healthy choices. They should not be left out of pocket if they choose to eat meat."

The new policy also received a mixed response on Any Answers. “I'd be looking for a pay rise,” wrote AccountingWEB member LionofLudesch. DJKL was similarly critical: “Seems to me employers need to decide if employment is a contractual relationship or whether they think they own their employees.

“I can see the need for an employer to control employee behaviour in the workplace if it might be detrimental to other employees but this, casting their values onto an employee, is a nonsense.”

The reaction wasn’t exclusively negative, though: “I'm sure most will disagree but I think this is a good idea on behalf of the company,” wrote Jholm.

“While incentives are offered for other 'greener' options (such as mileage rates for cycling to temporary workplaces), it does make sense to me especially since animal agriculture is one of the largest single contributors to carbon dioxide emissions.”

For Jonny Vowles, CEO of automated expenses tool Expend, the move also raises questions around the practical application of the policy.

“While potentially a divisive policy change, WeWork’s heart is in the right place. However, this may be overshadowed by how to police the regulation with over 6,000 employees worldwide. No one is going to manually check every food receipt to ensure it is meat free and not all receipts will be as obvious as stating 'steak and chips,'" said Vowles.

According to Vowles, a new breed of expense tools will help finance and HR teams apply the policy more rigorously and allow businesses to itemise details of employees’ expenditure, quickly and efficiently.

"In WeWork’s case, the finance and HR teams can then perform spot checks that food claims appear to be meat-free if they so wish," continued Vowles. "The ability to log expenses with the required level of detail at the point of purchase will be more likely to drive employee compliance with this expenses policy, helping it to serve a long-lasting purpose, beyond simply grabbing news headlines.”

About Francois Badenhorst

Francois

I'm AccountingWEB's business editor. Feel free to get in touch with comments, tips, scoops or irreverent banter. 

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19th Jul 2018 09:14

Awful policy. A small number of newer virtue-signalling companies view themselves as progressive agents of change towards an enforced worldview. Thankfully this sort on nonsense doesn't usually survive the first major encounter with customers.

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19th Jul 2018 16:36

This was done to death on the other thread but, in for a penny.

This is not new, charities and other third sector organisations have been following similar policies for years and hundreds if not thousands of larger companies now recognise the social and even investment benefits of reducing their environmental footprint.

This is no different and is a positive step.

Given that nobody is going to starve, I wonder at the strength of feeling of some of the anti brigade on accweb, maybe they’ve just woken up and didn’t see corporate social responsibility coming?

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to Paul Scholes
19th Jul 2018 16:45

Despite not seeing this on the other thread (which one?) I am a member of the 'anti-brigade' apparently. Please show me where I can sign up!

Based on the last time I looked at their prices, WeWork is definitely not a charity. Attempting to influence or control the food employees consume is not a positive step - it is authoritarian and dictatorial. It has nothing whatever to do with corporate social responsibility.

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19th Jul 2018 20:47

I didn’t say it was a charity, my point was that, as with many other issues, industry is beginning to follow practices and promote values long seen as core and obvious by the third sector.

The other thread is easy to find, just search for “meat” here it is: https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/no-more-meaty-expense-claims

This particular policy is just a tiny element in the movement towards industry understanding its responsibility to the community and environment. The article and company cites the “new” research in Science but for many of us the “new” research was in the report by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation 12 years ago:

https://news.un.org/en/story/2006/11/201222-rearing-cattle-produces-more...

This coincided with the companies act giving directors responsibility for the company’s impact on the environment and pressure for “integrated reporting” ie to report on sustainability and CSR along with the numbers, which some major companies took up enthusiastically. Eg; Google CSR for Coca Cola, KPMG and M&S (Plan A).

The idea at the time (and 20 years before in the US) was that this awareness would spread down the supply chain to small business but it’s only worked on a small scale and in most of those cases it’s the business owner who has the personal awareness and desire and brings it into the business, and not the fact that s/he can only sell to M&S if their corporate values are shared.

So it makes not a blind bit of difference to me how WeWork prices itself or if it has other less favourable policies, this is a small positive step. If nothing else, it brings into the open the environmental and social impact of the West’s craving for meat and animal products.

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to Paul Scholes
20th Jul 2018 09:57

The "West's" craving for meat? Every country in the world - North, East, West or South - eats meat, and that is not going to change.

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20th Jul 2018 14:45

People in Europe and North America eat far more meat on average than those in other countries. If everyone ate meat on a western scale, we would need two more planets to grow all the cattlefeed etc. And it is changing - worldwide, more and more people are getting the message that meat is bad for your health and bad for the planet.

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to Paul Scholes
20th Jul 2018 09:59

Behind the sentence "the wests craving for meat" you see the true genesis and ideology, these are extreme vegetarian and environmentalist authoritarian types trying to enforce their distorted views on the masses.

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By rjc
to SJH-ADVDIPMA
20th Jul 2018 12:21

Oh dear. The panic whiff of a carnivore!

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By rjc
to SJH-ADVDIPMA
20th Jul 2018 12:31

.

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to rjc
20th Jul 2018 12:24

You're repeating yourself in your clamour.

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By rjc
to SJH-ADVDIPMA
20th Jul 2018 12:32

Correct, have now deleted second. You are good at diverting from the real point!

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to rjc
20th Jul 2018 12:42

Please make a real point and I will kindly respond.

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By rjc
to SJH-ADVDIPMA
20th Jul 2018 12:51

Your comment "these are extreme vegetarian and environmentalist authoritarian types trying to enforce their distorted views on the masses" is ridiculous. many in this thread have made valid points about ethics and environmental impact. My response was on a similar level to yours.

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to Paul Scholes
20th Jul 2018 10:58

Well, if WeWork are really committed to reducing CO2 emissions perhaps they should tell their staff that they will not be employed if they own or use a car. Big Brother marches relentlessly on .

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to farrcorfe
20th Jul 2018 13:23

farrcorfe wrote:

Well, if WeWork are really committed to reducing CO2 emissions perhaps they should tell their staff that they will not be employed if they own or use a car. Big Brother marches relentlessly on .

The true fascist sense of 1984's Big Brother is horrifying, but so is a planet of idiots that destroy themselves, dredge every fish from the ocean fill it with plastic poison the ground and the air, cut down it's lungs by clearing rainforest for palm oil and then lets see how much meat you can eat ZERO.

Thankfully Big Brother Marches on, he will be our lord and saviour otherwise we are truly doomed! Freedom has a price and it's far too high!

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to Paul Scholes
20th Jul 2018 09:54

The basis for judging meat consumption as against sustainability is absurd.

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By k743snx
to Paul Scholes
20th Jul 2018 10:57

"hundreds if not thousands of larger companies now recognise the social and even investment benefits of reducing their environmental footprint".

Has anyone told the Chinese, with all their new coal power stations, or are we afraid to say boo to them?

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to k743snx
20th Jul 2018 13:24

k743snx wrote:

"hundreds if not thousands of larger companies now recognise the social and even investment benefits of reducing their environmental footprint".

Has anyone told the Chinese, with all their new coal power stations, or are we afraid to say boo to them?

Ever heard the Phrase Lead by example? we're subsidising coal still, so try again.

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By k743snx
to KrisKros
20th Jul 2018 15:12

Didn't realise we had anywhere near china's population.
Mind you, we seem to be giving it a good go.

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By Tornado
19th Jul 2018 21:00

"If nothing else, it brings into the open the environmental and social impact of the West’s craving for meat and animal products.

Unless I have read the wrong history books, animals have been eating animals since the day animals were invented.

It is nonsense after all these millions of years to suggest that this is suddenly environmentally damaging and such a suggestion is clearly yet another attempt by those with minority interests to impose their will on others.

By all means don't eat animals if you don't want to but it is arrogant and unacceptable for that view to be considered the only and right view.

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to Tornado
20th Jul 2018 10:01

Tornado,

Whilst I do not disagree that animals have been eating animals, as you put it, since animals were invented, I do not think that animals were bred and raised in the volumes, and then slaughtered as they are now.

As set out in the article, it is not just the life of the animals that is the issue but also the amount of water, CO2 and also the feed and antibiotics given to the animals that will be saved.

I do not at all think that it is nonsense that this is only recently becoming damaging to the environment, simply due to the size and scale of the animal production we currently have. Any amount of research will show that for all the animal feed that is grown, and fed to the animals who are then slaughtered for their flesh, it would be a much better use of the land to actually just grow crops that are to be used for human food consumption.

I understand that you may feel like others are attempting to force their will on you, if they are making a conscious decision not to eat the flesh of animals, or to support the mass breeding and slaughter of animals unnecessarily, however as I have said and as the article itself says this IS environmentally damaging and in 2018 can easily be avoided by people making a very simple change.

Not everyone wants to make that decision or change, and they may feel that their free will is taken away if they cannot eat meat, however this argument is horrifically weak, as it does not consider the free will of the animals who are, in the modern age, unnecessarily slaughtered.

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to DGaukrodger
20th Jul 2018 11:01

We kill animals that are not anywhere near as intelligent/self aware as we are, tell me the last sheep to land itself on the moon? We feast on the highly nutritious flesh of beasts, that in theory at least have been well cared for and humanely killed. What fate for them if we start to grow more plants, they literally cease to exist... a human being if being farmed themselves would choose to continue to be farmed rather than completely extinguished or a few dreggs remaining as well as might be extinguished. Harden up.

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to SJH-ADVDIPMA
20th Jul 2018 11:54

Simply killing because you believe someone/something is less intelligent than you, or less self aware sounds like a very dangerous philosophy that you have....

In relation to humane killing, nothing humane happens inside a slaughterhouse. Especially not when there are suitable alternatives to murder.

Whilst animal flesh may provide some people with nutrients, this does not mean that this is the only place in which the nutrients can be obtained, nor does it mean that this is most humane way of humans obtaining these nutrients.

We would not need to start to grow more plants, simply re-allocate what plants are being used for what purpose. Instead of using the plants to feed the animals, cut out the middle man (who in this case is murder) and eat the plants ourselves?

You seem to think that animals would just cease to exist if we didn't feed them, although in reality, by continuing to eat meat these animals would cease to exist sooner rather than later by being slaughtered.

I don't think that I need to harden up, more likely that you need to open up, that is your mind to what is actually happening to these animals.

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to DGaukrodger
20th Jul 2018 12:14

Where do you draw the line? For example, our ape cousins all eat other creatures but they tend to be small.

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to DGaukrodger
20th Jul 2018 12:23

So an animal that has been farmed as a product, and slaughtered within the law of the land is considered a murder?

Answer me this, assuming you were not intelligent or self aware, to know that a)you were being farmed, and b) you are going to be slaughtered, but you enjoyed the qualia of sentience, and could grasp the question, exist or not exist, what would your answer be?

There is no real place for wondering cows and sheep in this land of humans.

An animal is a nutritious food source to me, and there is no reason to shy aware from humanely farming and ending its life to the betterment of the human species.
You certainly wouldn't shy away if you got hungry enough, go and read some Maslow human motivation theory if you doubt it.

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to DGaukrodger
20th Jul 2018 12:46

"Nothing humane happens in a slaughter house" this is the kind of ignorance that perpetuates.

Tell Dr Temple Grandin nothing humane happens.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/people-and-culture/food/the-plate/201...

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to SJH-ADVDIPMA
20th Jul 2018 13:00

So, using your reasoning, you'd happily slaughter and eat another human you considered less intelligent and self aware than you?

You (not we) do feast on flesh but the point is you don't have to but, I suppose, whilst you consider other sentient beings as things, I suppose you're OK with that and would happily slaughter and eat a sheep, cat, dog or whale?

It speaks volumes that you put "in theory" into the bit about beasts being well cared for. It was reading up on the dairy industry and watching a couple of videos from UK dairy farms that turned me from Veggie to Vegan.

There's a recent video on Viva's site from a UK dairy farm that you could probably stomach but is not something I'd advise anyone else to watch.

Even in the best farms cows still only live a third to a half of their natural life by being kept permanently pregnant, plus their calves are removed from them within days (with most male calves facing no future) and I've heard the mothers calling for them at night but, so what, they are less intelligent and self aware than me, so what do they know.

If that's being hard then you're welcome to it.

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By k743snx
to DGaukrodger
20th Jul 2018 11:08

"it would be a much better use of the land"

Which would then have to be farmed more intensively. I can't see what's "green" about that.

In La-La-Utopia of course, land acreage is infinite.

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to k743snx
20th Jul 2018 12:03

Infinite acreage would not be necessary - given that based on the below study by the United Nations indicates that 26% of the earth's terrestrial surface is used for livestock grazing. This is in addition to the one-third of the planets arable land being used to grow crop for livestock feed.

I think this land would be more than sufficient to cope feeding humans - and that is all humans, not just those of us lucky enough to be able to afford food and other necessities.

EDITED - to include below link:
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/is-the-livestock-industry-destroyi...

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to k743snx
21st Jul 2018 09:35

Are you an accountant?

85% of land in the UK is used to produce X kilos of meat protein. Using beef as an example, the worse culprit, you will get up to 20X to 30X of plant protein from any land you swap over.

So there will be no need for intensive farming, quite the reverse.

It’s cos we only have 15% of the land to grow our vegetables that we have to intensively farm now AND double that by buying in from other countries, who also have to intensively farm.

So for all you Brexiters this is a win win!

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to DGaukrodger
20th Jul 2018 11:12

Meat consumption per se and the means of production should not be conflated, meat should be a highly prized commodity ( we used to have to run after it, trap it, and avoid being killed by it) instead of the factory product of today, anti bios should never be used and certainly not on a routine basis.

I take the point about feed, often soya grown in unsuitably cleared land, but with a high quality approach (meat as the "side") grass feeding works (eg Joel Salatin - Polyface Farm).

As for the free will, come on, it is ONLY humans that really express that notion even though many show emotions, every other species will eat its prey and in some places that still includes us.

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to moneymanager
20th Jul 2018 12:12

I agree with your opening points, previously we had to work for the meat, and like you say it would be a commodity - not a given.

In relation to the Polyface Farm idea, whilst this is interesting and I would agree this is much better than factory farming of any animals, the end result is still the unnecessary slaughter of innocent animals. In addition, I imagine that to raise animals in this manner is not sustainable with the current amount of meat that is being consumed as it would take much more land space.

In relation to your comments regarding animals free will, I would encourage you to wonder why animals are knocked out before entering the slaughter house? Any animal that I have ever seen would do whatever it could to avoid pain, suffering and ultimately death. If given the choice I doubt animals would freely walk towards the knife to end their life - but this choice is taken away from them.

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to DGaukrodger
20th Jul 2018 12:39

Why animals are knocked out? EVERY animal has a survival instinct, although we sometimes express it less coherently, so of course a hare will run and a pig in slaughter will squeal (which is why the correct Halal slaughter is with no prior sight of the blade), but as to your question, because of us and our sensibilities which no other animal shares.

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to DGaukrodger
20th Jul 2018 12:39

Why animals are knocked out? EVERY animal has a survival instinct, although we sometimes express it less coherently, so of course a hare will run and a pig in slaughter will squeal (which is why the correct Halal slaughter is with no prior sight of the blade), but as to your question, because of us and our sensibilities which no other animal shares.

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to DGaukrodger
20th Jul 2018 12:39

Why animals are knocked out? EVERY animal has a survival instinct, although we sometimes express it less coherently, so of course a hare will run and a pig in slaughter will squeal (which is why the correct Halal slaughter is with no prior sight of the blade), but as to your question, because of us and our sensibilities which no other animal shares.

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to DGaukrodger
20th Jul 2018 12:39

Why animals are knocked out? EVERY animal has a survival instinct, although we sometimes express it less coherently, so of course a hare will run and a pig in slaughter will squeal (which is why the correct Halal slaughter is with no prior sight of the blade), but as to your question, because of us and our sensibilities which no other animal shares.

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20th Jul 2018 10:03

Miguel is very good at basketball apparently. Wonder what his personal carbon footprint is?

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20th Jul 2018 10:21

Disgraceful. Penalising people for eating what they want? What next - refusing to pay for something considered unhealthy? Little thought here for people who may be on a non-dairy diet for allergen reasons, thus forcing them to be vegan or pay.
Employers can expect a code of acceptable conduct from their employees, yes. Policing what they eat really does not come under that.

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By k743snx
to clairebear
20th Jul 2018 10:59

Stalinism is alive and well.

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20th Jul 2018 10:24

They are not saying you can't eat meat, just that they won't re-imburse expenses for eating meat. I don't think that is unreasonable. People in the west generally eat too much meat anyway. Most people in the rest of the world don't eat meat, either for religious reasons or because it's too expensive.

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to john hextall
20th Jul 2018 10:33

If it is reasonable for employers to make food choices for their employees when they require them to travel for business, then it is just as reasonable for an employer to choose to reimburse expenses only for food that includes meat. But you wouldn't like that would you?

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By Tornado
to john hextall
20th Jul 2018 10:45

If the Company has always had a policy of not reimbursing expenses for meals that contain meat then there is possibly an argument that this was one of the conditions of employment. This is clearly unfair if there were employees that were already employed and have had this imposed on them.

Whichever way you look at this, it is unfair discrimination in the same way that you cannot discriminate against people due to their race, religion, colour, sexual orientation, and myriad other reasons. If legitimate expenses can be claimed back by anyone from the Company for meals purchased in the normal course of employment, then I think it is probably unacceptable in the eyes of the law to discriminate in this way against meat eaters and this is sure to be challenged in the Courts sooner or later.

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20th Jul 2018 10:36

This is absolutely fantastic! If the world doesn't stop eating meat, there simply will be no world. Meat is driving rainforest destruction and climate change just as much as fossil fuels. And it's not even good for you!

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to PatrickMorrello
20th Jul 2018 10:41

This is straying into evidence-free territory. I'm switching off my responses now!

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By bigugly
20th Jul 2018 10:40

A good way to keep unwelcome visits to your workstation from your boss down to a minimum - keep an open hamburger permanently on your desk

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20th Jul 2018 10:53

Is that actually legal?

I'm virtually vegan but I wouldn't shove anything (policy or food) down anyone else's throat because I don't want that done to me. I'd rather eat meat than a GM tomato.

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By k743snx
20th Jul 2018 10:54

With an ever-reducing amount of land available, will there be enough space to grow all the extra vegetables? particularly as we'd need to compensate for the reduction in nutrition that meat provides.
Leave the virtue signalling to the public sector, they do it best dontcha know.

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20th Jul 2018 10:56

He added that the policy will “save ....over 15 million animals by 2023”.

How will it "save" a single one when they won't be born in the first place, let's not eat bread in order to "save" wheat and not use paper in order to save grown for pulp trees; cognitive dissonance.

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By k743snx
to moneymanager
20th Jul 2018 11:03

Yes, the "Green" vision of farm animals gambolling in the fields.
If people don't eat them (or use their by-products), then farmers won't rear them.

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to moneymanager
20th Jul 2018 11:50

I guess you will always be able to look at a cow in the zoo.

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