Food plays a huge role in society, and office culture is no exception. Being vegan, however, can throw up some unexpected consequences. Think it can’t be that hard? Well, you’re right: it’s not that hard. But if you are vegan and work in an office, you have to constantly be aware of what you are eating.
Morning coffee or tea
When most people first get into work, they want a coffee or tea. If you prefer to get a latte or cappuccino at a coffee shop, you can often find a Starbucks or others that serve soy milk-based drinks. Often, independent coffee shops will make soy based-drinks, too.
If you prefer to use the free tea and coffee your employer supplies, you might have to provide your own milk alternative. Some employers these days are now supplying soy milk as well as regular milk, so it might be worth asking yours if he or she will provide milk alternatives, too.
When lunch rolls around, you can’t just run into the nearest neighborhood deli or restaurant every day. Depending on where you live, the vegan food options there will probably be too limited to make those places an everyday option. To avoid eating the same uninspired sandwiches and salads every day, cook your own meals the night or morning before work (this will also save you some money). Luckily, the Internet (and One Green Planet especially) is filled with amazing recipes for vegans.
A great example is this chickpea curry, which will be better the next day after the spices and flavors of the vegetables have all melded together.
Weirdly enough, Wikimedia (the organization that runs Wikipedia) has some amazing recipes for vegan food as well – including a recipe for Anarchist Oatmeal Cookies which will make your elevenses. But for meals that will make great lunches, they have a recipe for vegan chilli and a quinoa, shiitake mushroom and adzuki bean salad.
There is a strange rule that states that if there are more than five employees in an office, chances are someone is celebrating a birthday, wedding, pregnancy or something else that requires cake. Unfortunately, most of the cakes won’t be vegan. You’ll need to be extra-polite when asking if the cake is vegan and the declining to eat the cake to avoid looking preachy or like you don’t want to join in the fun. In most cases, staying in the kitchen (or wherever the cake and the socializing is) and commenting on how beautiful the cake is should do the trick.
Of course, if you are the office baker, you can make a delicious vegan cake, like these amazing peanut butter chocolate cupcakes.
Well, you’ve made it to the end of a long day. Since there was celebration and cake today, we can reasonably guess that happy hours at the nearest bar may be a possibility. Vegans obviously have to be careful here, too, because some beers and wines are filtered (‘fined’ is the industry term) through animal-derived products. This is particularly true of British ciders and ales, and though there are exceptions – such as pretty much everything in the Duchy’s Originals range of ales and ciders – you might be better off sticking to lagers from Germany and surrounding European countries. A quick list of some of the vegan-suitable lagers includes (but is not limited to):
Wines are a bit harder to list because there aren’t so many standard brands that can be found pretty much anywhere. Generally, the wine available is completely different from place to place. Still, there are a lot of resources out there, including this massive list of vegan-suitable wines from PETA.
If you want a cocktail, then good news! Spirits that are vegan-friendly include gin, vodka, whisky and brandy, so you can have a refreshing gin and tonic without a second thought.
There are other mixers and soft drinks you will need to avoid, though. Orange soft drinks often have gelatine in them or are clarified with gelatine, and some soft drinks have a red dye called cochineal (also called E120), which is made from crushed beetles. Moreover, some fruit juice is made with fruit that was covered in shellac.
In the end, though it’s not impossible being vegan in an office, it can be difficult. But if you stay aware of what you eat, are polite about it and have some yummy alternatives on hand, it shouldn’t keep you from participating in office culture.
Juleit Pena Julie works at Print Express UK. She works in marketing and is a proud vegan. Julie moved to England when she was 5 from Madeira and has spent most of her years working in London. She loves cooking, inventing her own vegan recipes. Her other passions include photography, writing and learning how to play the piano.
Image Source: Olga/Flickr