It’s easy to feel so connected and part of a community when you’re surrounded by like-minded people. As vegans, our community is precious to us and we immediately feel a bond with someone the instant they say they’re vegan, too.
So, what happens when we can’t be around our “people”? For instance, at work.
When it comes to my vegan lifestyle, my coworkers are a mixed bag: some are intrigued and supportive, some think it’s weird and avoid anything vegan, and some are simply indifferent.
On top of being known as the Smoothie Queen of the Marketing Department, I get a lot of comments and questions about the food I eat. And I appreciate it because, even when it’s negative, at least they’re talking about it.
No matter what the remark, it’s key to respond with love, remembering that you were once in their position. Below are some stories of interactions with my coworkers. Be sure to share your stories in the comments!
Are you going to eat that whole thing?
When it’s in season, I often bring half of a watermelon to work for breakfast. And I think it makes people confused or even uncomfortable. I get lots of comments and jokes about my watermelon.
A coworker asked me once, “Are you going to eat that whole thing?!” I matter-of-factly said, “Yes,” and we laughed together.
I try to be the example that it’s ok to eat as much as you want. U.S. News lists Weight Watchers Diet, HMR Program, and the Biggest Loser Diet as the best weight-loss diets of 2016. Sadly, they all focus on calorie restriction.
I’m hopeful that if my coworkers continue to see me eat as much as I care for, maybe even a small bit of it will rub off and they might substitute a small piece of chicken for a large bowl of pasta at our next lunch outing. Which leads me to my next story…
We often go out to lunch as a team and one of our favorite places is a (vegan-friendly) café down the street. Me being a fan of consistency, I always order the Zen Burger: a stacked burger with a Boca patty.
One of the strongest contesters of my vegan lifestyle saw me devouring this mouth-watering burger and started asking questions. Now, she gets the Zen Burger nearly every time.
It’s so rewarding to see a non-vegan enjoy vegan-alternative foods. Especially when the vegan-alternatives are so much healthier. Here’s a comparison of the Boca Burger and a hamburger. It’s a wonder why anyone still eats hamburgers!
The Cookie Incident
At my company, there is always an excuse to have free food around, whether it be Wednesday Breakfast, Friday Lunch or someone’s birthday. One particular birthday, everyone got Mrs. Fields cookies.
Wanting to take part in the celebration, I brought my own Lenny and Larry’s The Complete Cookie to munch on. Naturally people were curious about the chocolate chip cookie suitable for a vegan so the questions started.
I offered everyone a taste and not one person was brave enough to take a piece. But the conversation continued and soon a couple people were hesitantly taking a small bite.
What surprised me, though, was that some of my teammates were so against trying a vegan cookie. It’s not that they didn’t want a cookie, they were already eating the Mrs. Fields. It’s that the word “vegan” triggered something in them that they felt repulsed or scared or intimidated by it.
Being the only vegan in your workplace comes with great responsibility. You must be the light gently guiding your coworkers toward the truth.
How do you guide your non-vegan coworkers? What successes or failures have you had in the process?