November 1, 2004
Source: Chicago Sun Times
BY CHRIS KAHN
ROANOKE, Va. -- For telephone company CEO Norm Mason, a vegetarian, there was never any doubt what he'd offer at his company cafeteria.
Soy steaks and soy sloppy joes, veggie burgers and other meatless, eggless, butter-free delicacies are cooked daily using heavy bags of texturized vegetable protein.
on says he created the ''vegeteria'' out of concern for the well-being of his 200 employees of Cat Communications International. So he's giving them all the fresh vegetables and meat substitutes they could ever want -- for free.
''This was a way to say: 'Look, we don't feel it's right to have the flesh of an animal, an animal killed for your benefit,''' Mason said. ''I see it no different than smoking. People are asked to go outside and smoke.''
Not all Mason's workers appreciate his concern.
''They have this thing called 'soyberry steak' instead of Salisbury steak,'' said Michaela Goodman, a 19-year-old customer service staffer. ''It just didn't seem right. The fake meat stuff is not for me. I tried the nachos, though, and that looked about the same. It was pretty good.''
A few disgruntled employees called a local television station to complain about not being able to bring meat into the vegeteria. But Mason says they still can eat meat -- they just have to take it into another company room. Or they could go out for lunch.
Ginger Hinkley, 33, took a practical approach: ''I'm not one of those veggies, but it's free. Where else could you work and they'd actually give you free food?''
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