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Sweetgreen CEO Says We Need Salads More Than a Vaccine Mandate

In a now-deleted LinkedIn post, the tone-deaf CEO blames pandemic effects on processed food and refined sugar.

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In states like Florida and Georgia, hospitals and morgues are buckling under the weight of a new sudden surge in COVID cases with no end in sight. You might be thinking that people should focus on wearing masks and getting vaccinated to flatten the curve, but Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Neman thinks we should be taking a different approach: eating more salad.

In a since-deleted Linkedin post, Neman wrote that “78% of hospitalizations due to COVID are Obese and Overweight people.” The CEO—whose company is well known for its overpriced salads—went on to add that while he’s fully vaccinated and supports others to do the same, that we’re better off focusing on “overall health” rather than those preventative measures.

We have been quick to put in place mask and vaccine mandates but zero conversation on HEALTH MANDATES,” he wrote. “All the while we have printed unlimited money to soften the blow the shutdowns have caused to our country. “What if we focused on the ROOT CAUSE and used this pandemic as a catalyst for creating a healthier future??”


He also noted that these “health mandates”—like requiring masks and vaccines that are proven preventative measures against the virus—were examples of blatant “government overreach.”

A screenshot of the now deleted post.
A screenshot of the now deleted post.
Screenshot: Shoshana Wodinsky (Gizmodo)

To bring about that healthier future, we don’t only need to shove more $15 salads down our gullet, according to Neman. Instead, he proposed delegalizing unhealthy food. Y’know, the unhealthy food that other chains are selling.

“What if we made the food that is making us sick illegal?” he went on. “What if we taxed processed food and refined sugar to pay for the impact of the pandemic? What if we incentivized health?”


We’ve already seen how folks across the country have often violently responded when politely asked to wear a mask indoors. Just imagine what would happen if we tried asking them to put down the bottle of soda, or fining them if they don’t. People would riot. Hell, I’d riot. I don’t have a problem giving up the freedom of going barefaced in public, but nobody comes between me and my Diet Coke.

Jokes aside, Neman’s simplistic viewpoint ignores several important factors, namely the socioeconomic conditions that make it cheaper and easier to grab a McDonald’s value meal rather than a $15 green goddess bowl. But if I were the CEO of a salad chain, maybe I’d want to criminalize my burger-slinging rivals, too.