Eat like you give a damn: Lunchtime experiences 2
Lately, the work environment has shown itself to be quite vegan-hostile. There have been more comments misinterpreting, misrepresenting and ridiculing veganism that I have found myself needing to be more silent than ever, lest my already strenuous good relationship with my colleagues and supervisors crumbles. People assume en masse that vegans could not possibly eat a healthy meal or could not possibly ever be fully satisfied after a meal. People also think that vegans are misguided and extremist in their approach to human health, animal rights and/or the environment. It comes across clearly in many comments that non-vegetarians would consider to be harmless, but to a vegetarian, are quite offensive and hurtful. Comments like:
“How could you not eat meat?
“Who would ever eat a vegetarian pizza?”
Even more so, I am subjected every day (without fail) to conversations about meat. I actually believe that my presence in the lunchroom, as a vegan, inspires conversations about meat and some of them relish in their participation while I am in the room in a passively aggressive way of showing to me that they are triumphant, because the majority rules. That is when I usually stay silent and hope that no one notices that I am not participating equally in the topic.
I know the general tone of this post differs greatly from my positive attitude expressed in my previous post, but I feel that since the latter, my relationships with my colleagues have evolved. We have become more comfortable around each other. We have become closer in some ways due to our shared experiences at the job being greater. And so, why wouldn’t someone try to defend their roast beef sandwich, niceties aside? I do not regret being open about my veganism or even defending my lifestyle when necessary, but I’m finding it harder and harder to want to eat lunch with others, despite the social suicide that often is a consequence of eschewing the lunchroom in the early days of a new job. It’s a constant battle between me wanting to befriend others to make the working environment more pleasant and not wanting to because I know that instinctively, we can’t ever really be close friends. Where we draw the line in questioning our morality versus our everyday choices is much too disparate for any sort of long-lasting social bond.
It’s the weekend and I put on my vegan t-shirt, the one with the slogan, “Eat like you give a damn.” It was a subconscious fashion choice this morning, but perhaps it is symbolic of a need for a warm hug from an imaginary world that understands.