It’s hard being vegan in a non-vegan environment (which is basically 99% of Makati, where I’m based in). What I do for a living is not exactly vegan—it’s not cruelty-free and sustainable.
You’re probably asking me, “Hey, if you’re saying you’re vegan, but you don’t have a vegan job, why should we listen to you? You sound like a hypocrite.”
I know I sound like a hypocrite. However, I’m not the only vegan working in a non-vegan office. Looking for a vegan job around here is not that easy. Not everyone has the luxury of money and time to find or create a vegan job for themselves. But, as a vegan, I do my best to be compassionate about everyone’s needs.
Right now, what I have is the best.
In fact, being vegan in a non-vegan workplace is a great challenge for me because it helps me widen my comfort zone. This also enables me to share my lifestyle with others who find it strange but interesting. This is “training ground” for vegans who uphold the ideals of the movement.
SHARE. Usually at our office, we bring lunch. A lot of my office mates bring in meat or processed food. My lunch is always vegetables, or I would order from Greenery Kitchen, Good Food Vegetarian, or Juicesabel. When we sit down to eat, I’d share my veggies with the guys at my table. The dig right in, and mix my veggies with their food.
One of my office mates loves the vegan sisig I bring from Greenery Kitchen. I make a point to order in bulk, especially since I know many of my friends at the office like the meal I’m ordering. I think of my office mates a lot when I order.
SKIP THE LECTURE. No one likes to have a sermon at lunch time. While we enjoy the food around us, I make mention about the health benefits of the vegetable we’re eating, and give my table mates insight to what happens when we eat vegetables instead of meat. It is by no means a way to separate me from them. They get curious sometimes, and we make jokes about vegan stereotypes even. Without having to bore them with a lecture about over consumption and climate change, I am able to create good harmless conversation.
TAKE IT EASY. My supervisor has this involuntary desire to tease me about being vegan. It was insulting at first, but then after a while I started to just ride along his jokes and realized that he eats a lot of vegetables too. He isn’t vegan, but I know he isn’t disregarding or degrading my lifestyle either.
DON’T ACT TOO UPTIGHT. We often celebrate birthdays at the office, or someone invites us to drink out. I make sure that I order beer without any meat products or byproducts. I skip the cake, but take part in the (dark) chocolates and other (meat-free) snacks. I don’t want to be the one left in the cubicle.
HELP. Once in a while, someone asks me how it is to be vegan, so I immediately help out. I would never recommend them to go cold tofu and skip the meat overnight. Honestly, I still eat meat on one meal every weekend, and when I tell that to the person who wants to go vegan, it gives them some kind of confidence that not all vegans are strong. Nope, a lot of us are transition. I’m only 5 months into my vegan journey, and I myself have a lot to learn…
… But it’s nice to help someone start their own, even if I’ve barely achieved anything.
Always remember that each individual has his or her own way of living life. If they decide to take part in the vegan lifestyle, it’s not a victory for you but a victory for veganism itself. The non-vegan workplace is the perfect location to test yourself and even enjoy yourself. It doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to be hard.