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).
you know, at the very minimum, i sleep better knowing no one can ever say I "took my thoughts to linkedin"https://t.co/bY50u60Kgj
— Astead (@AsteadWesley) September 1, 2021
I already didn’t like Sweetgreen so that worked out well.
— roxane gay (@rgay) September 2, 2021
Virtually everyone needs better access to fresher, more nutritionally dense food, more money to buy it, more leisure time to prepare it, better knowledge of what they’re eating and how to cook it. Let me know when Sweetgreen pivots to address literally any of those things
— Amanda Mull (@amandamull) September 1, 2021
injected myself with the sweetgreen vaccine and i— pic.twitter.com/q2jINKvSoh
— David Mack (@davidmackau) September 1, 2021
I eat my fair share of salads and was hospitalized with a pretty severe bout of COVID that damaged my heart and knocked me out of commission for 6 weeks. I’m gonna go with masks and vaccines. And never, ever another visit to Sweetgreen.https://t.co/N8GQWnwkB3
— Heidi Stevens (@HeidiStevens13) September 1, 2021
if i ran a salad business i would simply not comment on viral pandemics https://t.co/pZDsy8nXFj
— acabernet sauvignon (@NJDG) September 1, 2021
The words “sorry I’m late for dinner, the CEO of sweetgreen said a bunch of stupid stuff on LinkedIn at 4:30pm” actually came out of my mouth tonight
— Matty Merritt ☕️ (@mattynotmaddie) September 2, 2021
Sweetgreen can’t keep bread in stock but is gonna tell us what we’re doing wrong https://t.co/VH2QX7osYf
— gianmarco (@GianmarcoSoresi) September 1, 2021