A vegan bowl with Beyond Meat from Just Salad

How Just Salad Is Helping Farmed Animals and the Planet



Every day is Earth Day at Just Salad.

Just Salad has long used innovation to push the envelope when it comes to meat reduction, animal welfare, and sustainability: from touting the world's largest restaurant reusable program to improving the lives of chickens by committing to Global Animal Partnership (GAP) standards, including meeting minimum space requirements and enrichment.

Last year, the company announced it would replace all grass-fed beef with plant-based Beyond Beef® meatballs to reduce meat consumption and be more sustainable. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we were delighted to share this and other exciting news about Just Salad with our supporters and recently had the opportunity to interview the company’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Sandra Noonan. 

Please tell us about Just Salad’s commitment to meat reduction.

Food production accounts for one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions globally, and meat has the highest carbon footprint of any food. Offering delicious plant-based alternatives is a way for us to support planetary, animal and human health at the same time. 

Last year, we permanently removed grass-fed beef from our menu and launched a new item called the Keto Zoodle Bowl, which features Beyond Beef® meatballs. The response was fantastic. And in response to COVID-19, we have launched Just Grocery, a delivery service in New York City, which also carries Beyond Beef® plus fresh greens, veggies, fruit and more. 

Going forward, we’ll be testing plant-based alternatives for animal products like chicken and cheese. I work closely with our culinary director to procure samples and identify brands that might work on our menu. 

This doesn’t mean that we would remove animal-based products overnight. We think the best way to encourage climate-friendly eating is to offer compelling alternatives. But we can envision a future where changing social norms around meat consumption and the proliferation of great-tasting, affordable plant-based alternatives enable us to remove most if not all animal products from our menu. 

Please tell us about the plant-based options available at Just Salad.

As our name suggests, we have many! For people who are trying to eat an entirely plant-based diet, I recommend our virtual Health Tribes restaurant, which offers five vegan items: The Banh Mi Bowl, Beyond Tex Mex Salad, Feisty Fiesta Bowl, Tokyo Supergreens with Tofu, and Umami Bowl. We also offer several vegan salad dressings, which we label on our in-store and online menus. 

This month, right in time for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we’re relaunching our smoothie menu with all plant-based ingredients. That means we’re using plant-based milks and yogurts rather than the traditional dairy options. 

What was a key motivator for Just Salad’s decision to remove beef from its menu? How does plant-based eating and meat reduction factor into Just Salad’s overall sustainability goals?

According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 51% of Americans surveyed feel “helpless” about climate change. The reality is that we are not helpless. Transportation, housing and food in that order are the largest contributors to the carbon footprint of the typical U.S. household. So, our dietary choices are a powerful way to take action on climate change. 

The climate footprint of individual foods can be calculated, and we know that beef has about 8 times the carbon footprint of chicken, and about 9 times the footprint of Beyond Beef®. And among six diets - keto, paleo, omnivorous, pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan — vegan diets have the lowest greenhouse gas emissions by far. 

One way to dip one’s toes in the waters of plant-based eating at Just Salad is through substitutions. For example, say you eat our Tokyo Supergreens Salad with chicken. By substituting tofu, you reduce the associated carbon emissions by about 37%.

We’re trying to pioneer the concept of convenient sustainability and empower people by offering what I call “climatarian” menu options. 

Since removing beef from its menu, has Just Salad seen an increase in sales for its Beyond Meat® meatballs? 

We saw a 96% jump in users to justsalad.com when we launched Beyond Beef®. Our Keto Zoodle Bowl, featuring Beyond Beef® Meatballs, is a top 10 menu item and our top-selling warm bowl. Plus, Beyond Beef® Meatballs are now more popular than our Grass-Fed Grilled Steak. Guests are adding Beyond Beef® to their orders 25% more frequently than they did steak when it was available. 

Outside of meat reduction, what else is Just Salad doing to be more sustainable?

We are committed to waste reduction at Just Salad. We started separating food scraps across our kitchens last year and sending them to composting and waste-to-energy facilities. And of course, we are home to the Reusable Bowl, which has kept tens of thousands of pounds of waste out of landfills every year since it was introduced in 2006. While the COVID-19 situation has put some of our sustainability programs on hold, we look forward to resuming them as soon as we can. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Climate change is an obvious threat to human and animal welfare. The good news is that we can mitigate climate change through our food choices. In honor of Earth Day on April 22, we’re inviting our customers to “eat climatarian” by ordering three of the most planet-friendly items on our menu, as measured by the carbon footprint of their ingredients. Customers who order through the Just Salad app will receive $2 off these items, which include our Avo Blast Toast (0.1219 kg CO2e), Beyond Tex Mex Salad (0.1445 kg CO2e), and Tokyo Supergreens with Organic Tofu (0.2067 kg CO2e).


Just Salad’s commitment to offering customers delicious plant-based options is great news for the billions of animals suffering at factory farms.

Meat reduction has the potential to put an end to some of the cruelest factory farming practices, such as extreme confinement, the overuse of antibiotics, and brutal mutilations of farmed animals. By reducing the demand for meat, World Animal Protection expects that factory farming will be phased out. As overall meat demand declines, a shift towards family farming and practices that are more sustainable and kinder to animals will replace cruel practices.

What can you do to alleviate the pain animals endure on factory farms? By reducing your meat intake and only consuming animal products from small family farms, you can help protect the planet, your health, and countless animals from needless suffering.

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