21 January 2020 | pacts insight | Views:

Surviving Veganuary at Work: for observers and non-observers

Stolen sandwiches. Someone reheating kedgeree in the microwave. Obligatory cake for three days in a row, because April is a ‘birthday month’. Yup, food is a tricky issue in the office.

And January makes it all just that little bit more complicated - a whole host of ‘New Year, New Me’ diets, booze-free pledges, and the word that strikes fear into every steak lover’s heart: Veganuary.

What is Veganuary?

January is the designated month for self-improvement. And that’s why, whether it’s for health, environmental or moral reasons, Veganuary has really taken off. A whole month of saying ‘later’ to meatball subs, cheese fondue, bacon butties, and clotted cream.

Sounds tricky if you’re a fan of those things, but many go for it. In 2019, 250,000+ people had a stab at a meat and dairy-free diet and 500 companies pushed the campaign too. So there’s a good chance you, or someone you work with, is trying it out too.

The rise of meat-free and plant-based food

There’s a real movement for veganism and vegetarianism at the moment, and businesses are noticing. With Greggs following up its vegan sausage roll with a quorn-based steak bake, KFC offering up a no-chicken burger, and supermarkets introducing new plant-based ranges, it’s getting easier and easier to join in. Easy enough at home, but how does that work in the office?

Workplace politics and food

Food at work. It’s a minefield. With packed lunches going missed from communal fridges, certain individuals abusing the free food and/or snacks laid on by your employers (I know you’ve had three diet cokes today, Gary!), the unpleasant smells wafting from the microwave or charred-bread-filled toaster… it’s exhausting.

And that’s not to mention the pressure of office ‘cake culture’, where any will to resist that second homemade brownie is tested by well-meaning peer pressure, and the difficulty of arranging a team lunch at a restaurant that everyone will A) like, and B) find something they can actually eat at. Introduce a new wave of newbie vegans, and some care is needed. And on that note…

If you’re taking part in Veganuary…

  • Acknowledge that not everyone is: You’re doing an impressive thing, but don’t judge anyone who isn’t taking part. Your deskmate is allowed their chicken salad sandwich.
  • Resist peer pressure: After a few post-5pm drinks, you may well be taunted into giving in to a Big Mac. Don’t do it! Hold out for the month at least and ignore the doubters.
  • Be proactive with finding vegan options: If you’re keen for a team lunch out that doesn’t end in you enjoying an undressed salad, get involved in planning it yourself!
  • Bring & share vegan alternatives: You might surprise, and sway, a few committed carnivores by sharing your non-meat/dairy snacks. Plus everyone likes free food!

If you’re not taking part in Veganuary:

  • Don’t get defensive: Not everything’s about you. Don’t bore everyone with a laundry list of why you want to keep enjoying BLTs - it’s fine!
  • Be considerate when choosing lunch venues: You don’t have to bend over backwards, but these days it’s easy to find places that offer options for every dietary requirement.
  • Try their alternative options if offered: A curious approach is a great thing - try a meatless burger or seitan fried ‘chicken’ and you might find you like them!
  • Check ingredients: Bringing in treats? Lush! Try and check what’s in them though - they don’t all have to be vegan-friendly, but it’s considerate to give a heads up either way.


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