Monday, April 30, 2007
Veganism at work
I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only vegan who cringes when another co-worker says, "Let's go to lunch," or the boss says, "We're all staying late. Don't worry, I'm ordering food." Oh, I usually manage, but I'm likely not happy about it. Unless it is a vegetarian restaurant, not likely, or a vegan friendly restaurant, also unlikely, pickings are slim. I had only been at The Brownsville Herald for a couple of months when we had a meeting of all of the city editors from Valley Freedom Communications. In all, there were eight of us, and no one had a clue I was a vegan, and I'm picking at this miserable excuse for guacamole. "Is that all you are going to eat?" one of the other city editors asked me. "Oh, this is great," I said, trying to avoid additional inquiry into my eating habits but thinking to myself how miserable the food was. In situations like these, you can't help but think about what you'll be able to eat that night when you would get home for dinner. A meal with co-workers usually equals a missed meal or one sorely lacking. Also while I was at The Herald, it was an election night tradition to have the editor order pizza for everyone. I trained the editor to get me cheeseless, meatless pizza. It wasn't until recently, since I left the job, have I come to the realization that the pizza I was consuming wasn't vegan at all. Having experience making pizza at home, it never occurred to me that someone would put dairy into the dough, but Pizza Hut does. They use whey. I can't tell you how pissed I was when I found out. You normally can't check a restaurant's ingredients while you are there. You can inquire about it, but usually you get back a bunch of uninformed nonsense from the servers. I had actually checked with Pizza Hut, and a straining server brought me the huge box of sauce they use, and showed me that it was vegan. I didn't ask for the dough, too, dreading the server having to lug another huge industrial-sized container again. Besides, I was confident that the dough would be OK. Most pizza crusts are water, flour, yeast and salt, sometimes with a small amount of oil. That's it, but one day I was surfing the Internet and found out that you could check the ingredients in the menu for many of the chain restaurants. Needless to say, Pizza Hut was not OK. I did, however, find out that Papa John's and Little Caesar's had vegan crusts. Of course, before I even had a chance to get acquainted, on the first day I started working at the University of Texas at Brownsville in February, they took me to the country club for a meal. I had a baked potato and danced around the "Is that all you are going to eat comments." I fantasize that I will one day remark: "What else do you want me to eat? You took me to this meat-loving restaurant, but I don't eat any meat. Thanks."