Being a vegan at work can be hard, well, work.
Even with the 4 billion per cent rise in veganism (figures curtesy of the Leave Campaign and Diane Abbott), many people just don’t “get it”.
“But what do you eat.” Food mainly.
“You can’t even eat eggs?” Even eggs? Most people don’t actually die from a lack of egg consumption.
“Don’t you miss bacon?” No I don’t miss a fried slice of pig skin too much.
And so on.
To be fair, many people do try hard.
My former employers used to ask about vegan options on the menu for Christmas meals out. One restaurant forgot to get vegan cheese in and offered me a vegan alternative – and a free round of drinks for my table! Everyone wanted to be friends with the vegan that night.
But I did once go to an Italian restaurant whose vegan option was a pizza without cheese – that actually turned out to be a base with tomato sauce on it and two bits of asparagus. I like asparagus, but two pieces a pizza topping do not make.
But people do forget that it goes beyond diet sometimes. We won’t bet on the Grand National, go dog racing, give to Cancer Research etc etc.
Sometimes explaining these things can get a little bit tiresome – but when that happens, remember that it gives you an opportunity to explain your stance. In effect, you are being asked to be a “preachy vegan” – so go for it. You never know, you might open someone’s eyes.
I asked people on social media for their experiences. One Facebook friend mentioned how friends were raising their child vegan and said this on the ill-informed response she received: “Apparently, it’s ‘borderline child cruelty to impose veganism on someone who can’t think for themselves.’ Like animals can think for themselves, yeah?”
Somebody else had slightly more positive experiences: “People at my office are generally pretty good – and interested in talking about veganism. My boss is ace and has sourced me Vego bars for Easter and vegan cider for Xmas. However, I wasn’t able to go to the Xmas meal as they had a really rubbish vegan option – so it’s not always at the forefront of people’s minds. Also, people always bring in cake for their birthday and I can never eat it.”
Personally, I like the response from one office worker, who said: “My boss’s response “well there must be other normal vegans out there because you’re quite normal”.”
You see, we are normal!
Canteens were another issue, with many vegans bringing in packed lunches even when this facility is available in a workplace. One worker had this to say about company-provided food: “For the last company event I asked in advance if a vegan option could be possible. They ordered me 6 dry bread rolls. Compare that to the treatment I got when I recently visited our sister company in Sweden – they had informed the hotel in advance, arranged a vegan lunch for me every day and had informed the restaurant where we had an evening function that a member of the party was vegan and planned a menu for me.”
To be fair, the first time I ever encountered avocado was at a training event where a vegan meal was provided for me.
Several vegans I asked on Facebook said they were known as “the vegan” at work – something I find a bit laced with prejudice, although it can be done affectionately.
The most blunt response I received was from a builder friend: “Try telling someone you are vegetarian or vegan on a building site it’s almost as bad as telling them you sh***ed their granny the night before.” Quite!
It was also pointed out that “Case law has shown that veganism is a protected belief.” Something that is worth remembering if you get bullied or singled out in the workplace.
One respondent in charge of tea and coffee had been using soya milk instead of cows’ milk for months before anybody noticed… It’s worth checking that nobody has a soya allergy before doing this, however, the same applies to nut milks.
It is a bit difficult when someone brings a smelly McDonalds into work, the same applies to Tuna or egg, all of them smell like hot death to a vegan’s sensitive nostrils. To the death eater, we are a bit weird. Being a bit weird is generally OK you know – especially considering the alternative.