Yesterday I learned about a new program being implemented at Whole Foods Market called “Team Member Healthy Discount Incentive Program”. Although the sound of it may sound nice, it is based on discrimination. I have been livid since hearing the news about this program and so upset that a company would think this program is acceptable. The program gives further discounts than the standard 20% off for those who fit certain criteria. The amount of the additional discount depends on your health scores based on if you are a non-smoker, cholesterol level, blood pressure reading and your BMI.
BMI (Body Mass Index) is determined in a formula using your weight and height. It does not allow for consideration of your actual body health. Studies have even shown the category of “overweight” is statistically the healthiest category. Most athletes would be considered overweight and even some obese.
You may be wondering what all this can to do with vegan recipes. I have been vegan for about 14 years now, but I have been fat for 34. I have been a dedicated animal rights activist, but I have also been a dedicated fat acceptance activist. All through these years I have been a very active individual. As a child you could usually find me either hiking in a local park or playing sports. As an adult I’ve biked a lot including a bike delivery business and a century ride around wine country. I did all that I was “supposed” to do of eating well and being active, and I am still a fat girl. This is who I am.
I have had to deal with a lot of stereotyping of my behavior due to my size. I have been called a “fatass” while biking up a very steep hill. I have been told I am not a good vegan because of my size. I have had food thrown at me during protests while being called fat names. I have had to put up with a lot of bullshit due to other people’s ignorance.
I believe in health, and I believe in size acceptance and I do think these two things are important to go together. There is too much hatred in this world of ourselves and others to accept this type of behavior, so I need to speak up when I see people/government/companies further fat hate and stereotyping. What Whole Foods is doing is not okay. There are fit and fat people who will watch unfit and thin people get further benefits than themselves. Below is my letter to Whole Foods. I encourage everyone to write one as well and until this program is changed, please BOYCOTT Whole Foods. Do not support a business who contributes to discrimination. It is just not acceptable.
Dear John Mackey,
I just learned about you “Healthy Discount Incentive Program” for team members. This program discriminates against people who are larger in size and doesn’t take into account true health. Studies have actually shown the healthiest population is from the “overweight” category of the BMI determination scale. Majority of athletes are considered overweight on the BMI scale as well, since these measurements do not account for muscle, which you would hope healthy people would have.
Personally, I am considered obese according to my BMI. I have always been a fat girl, and I have always been active. When I was working at Whole Foods myself, 8 years ago, I biked to work every day and everywhere else I traveled to. I worked out often and I was fit. I was also fat. That is who I am. I have been vegan for about 14 years and although I am not perfect, I eat fairly healthy, and definitely healthier than the average person. If the program went in effect while I was working at Whole Foods, I would have been one of the fittest people there and I would have seen people who eat unhealthy and never exercise get more of a discount than myself. This is an example of why this program is discrimination. We are not all created the same size. It is called diversity.
A person’s health should be none of a company’s business. This should not be a factor in rewarding or punishing employees. Although all employees will still be allowed the 20% employee discount, giving other employees more of a discount is punishing those who do not qualify under their determining health factors. Although the program may be “voluntary”, it is not an option for your fit and fat team members.
I am whole-heartily disgusted by the implementation of this program. I plan to boycott Whole Foods until this program truly rewards ALL healthy individuals by taking out the BMI criteria, or changing the program entirely. I will encourage others to do the same.There are so many other options to reward healthy living, without discriminating or engrossing on employee’s personal health information. Try giving further discount on vegetables and whole grains, give discounts for biking or walking to work, or joining a gym. I encourage creating a workplace of not only health, but also acceptance of all people. I do hope I hear you reconsider this program and find a way to reward health to all.
Sincerely, Chelsea Lincoln