27 January 2011

Being vegan at work- a series of landmines or an opportunity?

Starting a new position as a vegan presents its own unique challenges but transitioning to a compassionate vegan lifestyle after you've been working somewhere for a few years can be a difficult series of landmines to navigate. One wrong step may just cost you your job.

Being or becoming vegan holds up a mirror that many people aren't ready to look into. Especially when those people are your co-workers or supervisors, especially when you walk into work, guns ablaze with information that none of your cube-mates want to hear. You can get in a fight with your brother over factory farming and if he refuses to talk to you for a week, NBD. If your boss is the person you've alienated with your alleged judgments (trust me, every non-vegan assumes you're judging them), your career or any future promotions could be in serious danger.

For me, one of the first things I lost after going vegan, which took a lot of work to get back, was compassion towards humans. After becoming informed I made the transition to veganism but prior to that point I just didn't know any better. So I didn't understand why these people around me upon learning the same information weren't as excited as I was about "giving up" their favorite foods. I also didn't understand how our cafeteria manager could possibly not realize that chicken broth is not vegan.

After much soul searching, I realized that "these people" I had demonized for participating in animal exploitation deserved a fair shake. After all, my mother is not vegan but she is an amazing, compassionate and thoughtful person who's just not there yet. It was time for me to take a gentler approach and it came in the form of baked goods. Nothing wins people over like delicious treats. NOTHING.

If I have learned anything from my experience, it's treats first, graphic images of cruelty later. Once people realize they can still have their cake and eat it vegan, they'll be more likely to *consider* giving up things like the milk they've been stealing from baby calves their whole lives.

Ryan Leitch
Ryan is an Abolitionist Vegan Activist and her passion for all things vegan consumes her. Animals are here with us, not for us. Her favorite outreach activities include writing and blogging, hosting movie screenings, tabling and leafletting, demonstrations, potlucks, and Vegan Drinks. You can also find Ryan at Vegan Minneapolis.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/lokner