I’m going into my third year of eating meatless now. I’ve become used to the thousands of questions, strange stares at my food, and constantly being harassed about the “life and food” I’m missing out on. I once worked in a corporate setting and realized that the workplace can be a strange place for vegans: there are breakfast smorgasbords of different pastries, croissants, doughnuts, bagels, cream cheese and sometimes birthday cake…lunch meetings at non-vegan restaurants…random food brought in by co-workers (ex. Hot dogs, hamburger helper, mussels and pork, store bought desserts, etc).
In my case, I always came prepared with several meals (unless I had a lunch meeting). I eventually had to explain my veganism to some co-workers…Here come the thousands of questions for the next hour. Sometimes I’ll be harassed by ignorant omnis. Regularly I’d hear, “There’s Amy eating her brussel sprouts”, and once I got “Ewww…what are you eating?” while I was cutting up my hummus and vegetable stuffed peppers.
I eventually learned to deal with it. My body is happy with my food choices and that’s what matters.
At my new job I became more wise and experienced and was determined to conquer any vegan misconceptions from my omni co-workers right in the beginning. I first one my new coworkers over with raw pumpkin power balls. After that I started to introduce them to more vegan desserts and eventually worked my way up to roasted brussel sprouts (which some of them never tried). I gained an awesome rep as a good cook through my desserts, so they figured if I had made the dish it must be healthy and good!
If you are having trouble finding vegan options or dealing with those silly omnis, here are a few things that have worked for me in the non-vegan workplace:
First and Foremost Be Prepared
If you’re new to your job or veganism, scope out vegan foods that are offered on their dime. If not a lot of options are there for you have a talk with HR to let them know about what you eat. Companies are always looking for new healthy options for their employees. If “coming out” isn’t an option for you, always come prepared and readily armed with your own lunch and snacks.
Be the Vegan Poster Child
It’s very possible that you could be the only vegan in the workplace, so try to set the best example for veganism that you can! There is a HUGE misconception about vegan food being boring and bland. Be that shining star…Come into work GLOWING every day with a green smoothie (I do, hehe J) and try to look good and keep yourself healthy and cheerful.
Sharing is Caring
Often people would tell me that my food looked really good, so I let them taste a bite of it. Sometimes I would even make extras of what I was eating for coworkers to try too. I was able to get my whole team hooked on kale chips pretty easily. One even said they were better than Pringles. DUH! Of course they are!
Let ‘em know why being vegan is freakin awesome! Most people are completely oblivious to the factory farm industries and how animals are really treated behind doors. Educate them on cooking, baking and how Mother Nature gives us everything we need in a proper diet. Don’t forget to mention the sudden urge of natural energy you have all day every day too. I was able to convert one friend to veganism in the past few months and had several coworkers incorporate vegan meals into their diet. Awareness is key!
Don’t Hide During Celebrations
Unfortunately, most people already think you’re weird since you’re vegan….So don’t be anti-social at non-vegan events. Make sure to be social and either bring your own treat, or just join your coworkers for a cup of coffee or tea.
Plan for a Vegan Outing
If you have to go to a meeting or event outside the office, try to suggest where to go. If you are not able to suggest a restaurant, call ahead and tell them you’re vegan and will be eating in their establishment. Most likely they will give you a list of vegan dishes on the menu if there are any. But if not, ask them to make something for you. Don’t be afraid of being the “obnoxious foodie”, you are in charge of your health.