Adopting a plant-based diet is good for your body, good for animals, and good for the planet. And while all of its amazing benefits are evident, that doesn’t mean it’s always a piece of cake to eat healthy and vegan when you’re living in an overwhelmingly meat-centric culture. For many plant-based eaters, it’s easy to eat vegan at home, but can be trickier in social situations such as the workplace. The vast majority of us spend most of our days at work, meaning much of our eating happens there as well. Depending on the environment and culture of your place of employment, you’re likely to encounter some occasions where non-vegan food is plentiful, and your coworkers may not always have a clear understanding of your lifestyle. However, with a little creativity and strategic thinking, you can easily stay happy and eat healthy and vegan while at work.
1. BYO Lunch
Depending on where your workplace is located, there may be a shortage of nearby restaurants that serve vegan fare. In the middle of a busy workday, the last thing you want is to feel hangry and frustrated that you can’t find food to refuel. To save yourself some stress and extra cash, pack your own lunch and bring it with you. By doing this, you’ll avoid agonizing about where (and if) you’re going to find something decent to eat. There are plenty of amazing recipes online that are perfect for making ahead of time and will hold up through your morning commute. By bringing your lunch from home, you’ll have endless options for healthy, filling, and creative meals to keep you energized all day.
2. Share Vegan Treats
If you’ve worked at an office for any length of time, you know that the endless stream of birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, engagements, and other celebrations means there is never a shortage of desserts in the break room. Enjoying a sweet treat with coworkers is a wonderful way to have fun, boost morale, and build relationships with your team. Unfortunately, most store-bought cakes and other goodies contain animal products, causing office vegans to feel a little awkward or left out of the fun. An easy solution is to bring plant-based treats to share next time there’s a party. If you’re a baker, your homemade treats will impress your colleagues and show that you care. Or, if you prefer, you can pick up a vegan cake from a specialty bakery or health-conscious grocer like Whole Foods, showing your coworkers that veganism isn’t any less convenient or delicious.
3. Pack Some Snacks
When your brain is fried from morning meetings and you need an afternoon pick-me-up, it’s tempting to head to the vending machine or dip into the candy jar at the front desk. Unfortunately, these options are not only lacking in vegan selections, but processed junk food will likely bring a major crash in energy without filling your stomach. Stay productive by stocking up on your favorite plant-based snacks to keep at your desk. You’ll have them at the ready whenever a snack-attack strikes, meaning you never have to worry about suffering through the day with a growling stomach. If you’re feeling generous, you can even share some with your coworkers, getting them hooked on delicious vegan snacks that they’ll want to start buying, too.
4. Lend a Helping Hand
If your office regularly hosts corporate lunches or special events that include food, you can ensure that vegan options are always available by offering to assist in the planning process. If your team is arranging to eat at a restaurant, volunteer to make the reservations. That way, you can check the menu for vegan options, or ask the host if they can accommodate dietary restrictions when you call. This can help to avoid any awkwardness during the meal, leaving you to enjoy the company of your colleagues. You can also volunteer to order catering, and pick a few plant-based choices that both you and your meat-eating coworkers will love. And as a vegan, you are likely more sensitive to the dietary restrictions of others, putting you in a perfect position to order fantastic fare for your coworkers who have food allergies and are maybe too shy to speak up for themselves.
5. Define Your Diet
Choosing to go plant-based is a very personal choice, and only you know what is best for your heart, mind, and body. When you find yourself in a tricky food situation at the office, trust your gut when deciding how to handle it. Eating is a highly social, communal experience, and every culture has its own quirks and customs surrounding meals. At the end of the day, you know your body best, so don’t let anyone else tell you how you should eat. Adopting a vegan lifestyle is more than abstaining from animal products; it’s about living compassionately. Don’t let the opinions of others keep you from following your intuition. Define what a plant-based lifestyle means for you, and empower yourself to set your own boundaries, even if it looks different from your vegan or meat-eating friends. Be kind to yourself and to others because that’s what being vegan is all about.
How do you survive as a vegan at the office? Share your tips for how to eat healthy and vegan at work!
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