News & Politics

Sweetgreen Co-Founder Claims “No Vaccine Will Save Us” From Covid—But Salads Just Might

Jonathan Neman's now-deleted LinkedIn post has gotten plenty of blowback.

All 18 DC Sweetgreen locations were closed yesterday. Photo by Jessica Sidman.

Jonathan Neman—one of the three founders of DC-born salad chain Sweetgreen— is coming under fire for a recent LinkedIn post about his thoughts on the Covid pandemic. In it, he claimed that “no vaccine nor mask will save us” from the coronavirus, instead suggesting that countries “learn how to best live with it and focus on overall health vs preventing infection.”

The Georgetown grad’s post, which has been taken down but remains archived, seemed to imply that obesity poses a greater risk factor for Covid-19 complications than being unvaccinated. “78% of hospitalizations due to COVID are Obese and Overweight people,” Neman wrote. “Is there an underlying problem that perhaps we have not given enough attention to? Is there another way to think about how we tackle ‘healthcare’ by addressing the root cause?”

“What if we focused on the ROOT CAUSE and used this pandemic as a catalyst for creating a healthier future??,” Neman continued. “We clearly have no problem with government overreach on how we live our lives all in the name of ‘health,’ however we are creating more problems than we are solving….What if we made the food that is making us sick illegal? What if we taxed processed food and refined sugar to pay for the impact of the pandemic? What if we incentivized health?”

It’s a convenient message for a CEO of a massive high-priced-salad chain, and one not fully rooted in fact. While obesity has been identified as a comorbidity of Covid-19, leading to increased risk of hospitalization, that risk can be significantly diminished with the vaccine, which reduces the risk of hospitalization by 80 percent. And increased rates of vaccination and mask use result in mitigated spread of the virus, leading to decreased risk of even contracting it.

Several folks used Twitter to express their disgust and swear off Sweetgreen’s $10-and-up salad bowls. (PS: This isn’t Neman’s first public misstep. If you’re looking for a little extra schadenfreude, check out this clip of him being escorted offstage after rapping poorly at a Sweetgreen-sponsored Kendrick Lamar show).

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.