Being vegan at work needn’t be about defending your decision not to eat animal products; instead, make it about sharing the fun you have with food
Dear Veganuary, my work mates don’t get veganism. How can I get them on-side?
Few people are vegan from birth, and many former non-vegans may once have been astonished by the choices made by their future selves. But not everyone moves away from consuming animals products for the same reasons (and many won’t at all), while others are more open to cutting back on the amount of animal products in their diets.
As someone who understands the many benefits of an enriching vegan lifestyle, being vegan at work is a great opportunity for you to share that experience with others. Though more people are becoming receptive to the valid and rational reasons for making such lifestyle changes, others are less easy to persuade – not least because what we eat can be a very personal thing and may even go some way towards constructing our identities.
But one of the methods that can help make veganism more palatable to the resistant, is to reach their hearts by way of their taste buds. After all, the last vestige of defence from the non-vegan is, “But I could never give up cheese/chocolate”.
If you can help to show that you don’t need to miss out on delicious edibles by showing off how simple it is to make a few changes, then you’re not only highlighting that vegan food is much more exciting than the mealy, unimaginative stereotypes of the 1970s, but you’re sparking a conversation.
That doesn’t mean you have to become the office caterer, however. Spending a little time making yourself appealing packed lunches, and doubling the quantities in your cooking the night before so you can enjoy tasty leftovers the next day (visit our recipes pages for some inspiration), can make your lunch the envy of your workplace. If your office has a culture of baking, you don’t have to go to any extra effort to make amazing brownies, biscuits or cookies that are 100% animal-free. Once people become aware that they needn’t ‘lose out’ on many of their favourite foods, you’re already halfway there.
As well as a steady increase of vegan food available on the high street, which, if you tend to pop out for lunch you can easily model, young vegan businesses are emerging to cater for an increasing demand for convenient lunchtime meals that aren’t run-of-the mill sandwiches or pasties. Devon-based caterer, S.P. Nutrition, is less than a year old, but the owner has seen demand for his tasty lunches and baked goods increase in popularity over just a few months.
“People want affordable, tasty, healthy vegan food that’s delivered straight to their door. All my non-vegan regulars have been really enthusiastic about the healthy weekly menus,” says Sam Passmore, the chef who runs the vegan lunch delivery service locally.
“It’s incredibly important for people to reduce their consumption of all animal products, and every time someone orders a vegan lunch that’s what they’re doing, as well as eating something that’s tasty.”
And part of that enthusiasm among non-vegans is because of the variety and interest that vegan cuisine offers. As a consumer of meat and dairy it can be tempting to fall back on the same old lunch choices, but vegan food can be very inspiring, involving vibrant ingredients such as nuts, seeds, sauces, dressings, marinades, leaves, spices, herbs, fruits, vegetables, pulses and more, all helping to create a colourful, nutritious and enriching diet. And who could say no to that?
If you’re keen to get colleagues on board with food choices that benefit their health, the planet, and of course, the animals, why not invite them to sign up to the Veganuary Workplace Challenge? We’ve got all the resources you’ll need to help it to happen.