I eat my lunch early everyday at 11:30. The staff lunchroom, or any meal table with non-vegans, can be one of the least enjoyable places to be. Even before I was vegan, I was never a fan of the staff lunchroom nor have I ever understood the obsession people seem to have with what they and others are eating. Although it pains me to say this about my own gender, women can be the worst for this:
“Oooh, what do you have there? That looks healthy,” as if I need their approval before I can begin eating.
“Oooh, fries – are you treating yourself today?” Oh my god, fuck off.
As a vegan, it only gets worse:
“Is that tofu? It looks like chicken.” Yes. Yes, it does. But it’s not and that’s the point.
“So you don’t eat animals. But you eat fish, right?” Um….
And sometimes the comments are downright bullying. Julian experiences this all of the time with his co-workers and I don’t know how he puts up with it. The other day, someone brought in baked goods to the office and it were as though people had never eaten a pastry before:
“You HAVE to try this, Julian, it’s SO delicious. It’s not vegan but it’s SO GOOD. You NEED to try this!”
Hey, Jagweeds: would you tell a Muslim or Jewish person they HAVE to try this bacon-wrapped sausage?
Would you tell a diabetic they just HAVE to try this cotton candy?
Would you tell a celiac they just HAVE to try this gluten-filled bread?
No. No you wouldn’t. Because we would respect their choices, be they based on a religion, allergies or a medical condition. But a dietary choice based on ethics? Pffft. You’re just a vegan! What the hell do you know! Surely we can’t really take your position seriously even though we’ve never directly asked you about it and actually have NO IDEA why you choose to eat the way you do or how the animal parts and secretions we’re currently shovelling into our faces came to be. I mean it’s nice and all that you don’t eat animals, but don’t tell me how to live my life even though that’s exactly what I’m doing when I tell you to eat something you’ve already stated that you don’t. But vegans are the pushy ones. Right.
The animal rights movement is still in its early days and as Robert Grillo points out in his book, Farm to Fable:
If we’ve learned anything from other social causes, then surely we can appreciate the fact that all advocates of change are criticized and attacked for having a different vision of justice for an oppressed group that society doesn’t yet regard as worthy of consideration. In other words, it’s par for the course.
“It’s par for the course.” He’s right, but man, it gets tiresome. And I don’t appreciate my husband or my friends or myself being harassed into eating something just because you think your taste buds are more important than my convictions. The irony of this behaviour is that vegans are frequently accused of doing this yet non-vegans do it to us ALL OF THE TIME.
And that’s why I eat in the lunchroom at 11:30. Because no one else is in there but me.