I don’t spend a lot of time advocating to my coworkers. Though in many ways the amount of time we spend at work creates a huge opportunity, it doesn’t generally work out that way for me. Partially because of the atmosphere at work, which isn’t worth getting into other than to say it is highly restrictive.
And so I hope sometimes that simply being the veganbikecommutingenvironmentalist of the office, I’ll give people ideas by what I do. It usually seems an impossible hope.
Last week a coworker awkwardly started a conversation, by asking if there were vegetarian frozen dinners. I’ve never been much into these types of meals, and didn’t pick up on the cue right away. He was surprised and pleased when I said there were. Eventually he mentioned that he had recently seen “Meet Your Meat” on youtube, and he now felt that he had to reduce his meat consumption. Obviously I greatly encouraged this.
He has two young children, and so one of his worries is that he doesn’t have a lot of extra time. He wants easy options. I don’t know how on board his wife is either. As it happens, I was put in charge of the vegetarian options for a company picnic in August. I asked him if he’d be interested in the vegetarian option, and he was really pleased, and said he was. He also mentioned that when he saw the announcement about the picnic, he couldn’t help but to think about all the cows who would be killed.
That sounds like someone who is leaning towards giving up meat, for all that he insisted he wasn’t going to give it up entirely. (yet?)
As many issues as I have with PeTA, and as wary as I am about shocking footage that gets people riled up specifically about the “factory farming”, it does seem to open a door for people. Part of why I’m wary of shock tactics is that people get numb, and I think it can happen quickly. I hear too often of people who insist they’ll never eat meat again after watching some video, and a month later they’re back to their old habits because “it was too hard” or they were at a family bbq and didn’t like the social implications of what it meant to stand by your ethics.
But I’m focusing on that open door. I am going to specifically focus on helping him go meat-free for his lunches. It is a place to start, and it is a starting point that will almost always impact only himself, so it seems like low hanging fruit to me. He mostly shops at Wegman’s, but seemed willing to go to Whole Foods if needed for some vegetarian conveniece foods.
The interesting thing to me is that part of our conversation was regarding organic food, processed food, and local food. I’m not a fan of processed / convenience food for many reasons. It is nice to have it available, no doubt, but it is too expensive, environmentally, for an everyday option. That’s what he eats now, though, and so it will be a step in the right direction to get him onto vegetarian convenience foods. Maybe he’ll start making a vegetarian meal and eat off the leftovers soon. That’s what most of us do, I think.
And of course though he says “vegetarian”, I am only pointing him towards vegan resources and options. It is my tactic, when people bring up vegetarianism to act like veganism is the obvious end goal. Because it IS, even if they don’t know that yet. Acting like it is common knowledge makes them think and wonder – I can actually see it happening sometimes. Maybe I’ll get somewhere, eventually.
In the meantime, I have this coworker. I am trying to think of good resources to point him towards. Given his interest in the bigger issue of our food, I thought “Diet for a Dead Planet” would be a good choice, but I have a feeling he only reads books on code. He got to this point by watching a video, so maybe “Home” would help him along. I’ve heard great things about it, at least.
I need to get some good ideas for easy vegan lunches. He’s used to the frozen meals at the moment, so I’ll point him towards the vegan options, the ones that are widely available. Ideally, since I believe he will want to move away from these processed packaged foods if he continues to let himself consider the issue, I’d like to have some resources to point him towards. And though it might sound odd, I have a feeling that cookbooks aren’t what he needs, or at least aren’t what he’d be interested in at the moment.
Any suggestions would be welcome!