One of my main obstacles I’ve had to tackle transitioning this diet is my job.
I work in an office so I’ve got the standard work week of 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday. To me, that’s a lot of sitting around and it’s the one part of the job that I dislike. I like being active throughout the day but anyway with a sedentary job surrounded by work colleagues comes quite a few challenges when you’re a HCLF (High Carb Low Fat) vegan.
1. I’m away from home most of the day, so that means one thing – you must prepare your food!
I leave my house in the morning around 8am every morning and I don’t get home again until after 6pm, if I go straight to the gym after work that means I’m not home until after 8pm that night. That’s a whole 12 hours I’m away from home right there. It’s so important so prepare your lunch, snacks, and pre-gym food for the following day at night. It doesn’t take long and you’ll thank yourself the following day for doing it. If you don’t prepare anything you will get hungry, and if your anything like me you will become desperate and will eat anything in sight that you can get your hands on. It usually ends up with me going to a nearby shop and because I’m so hungry and they have a very few vegan options I end up getting something fatty and processed.
GET YOUR TUPPERWARE ON and start packing your lunch! I usually pack a big green salad and some baby potatoes for my lunch and maybe some bananas/or other fruits to snack on throughout the day too. Weekends are the best for me to get my food organised. I usually do my food shopping on a Friday or Saturday and then on Sunday I bulk cook a few meals and pack them up in lunch boxes for lunch and dinner for the following few days.
2. The judgement – I haven’t experienced this fully myself because I work in a small office with some pretty laid back awesome people but it’s definitely something that can happen.
No matter what, if you do something outside the norm or start doing something outside your usual routine people will pick up on it immediately and question you. People are like sheep, they love to follow and do what everyone else is doing. We are also nosy, everyone loves to know what others are up to.
I would urge you before you start bringing in your bags of fruits and veggies, to be sure and confident in your choice of becoming a vegan. You don’t want to be the person that went vegan for two weeks but couldn’t hack it. When you are positive that this lifestyle is for you the judgement, odd looks shouldn’t even bother you. All I can say is to take control and don’t surround yourself with people who are going to be quick to judge. You have a choice here – surround yourself with people who support you and want to enjoy your success.
Try and explain to your co-workers why you have decided to become vegan, be it for health, environmental or ethical reasons good people will generally understand when you give them an honest explanation for sudden change of actions. Once they know why your eating differently, the funny looks ans stares will stop and people will begin to accept that your now ‘the vegan girl’.
3. Office events, parties, birthdays,
These situations can be difficult. The pressure and temptation of an office party or night out can always get the better of anyone. Only last week it was someone’s birthday in my office. We have a tradition of getting a birthday cake for anyone if it’s their birthday. We all stand round eating our cake, and have a little chat. It’s really just an excuse to doss work for 15 minutes 😉 As I always took part in these mini parties my co-workers were curious that I suddenly didn’t want cake anymore. After I had explained that I had given up dairy for health reasons they were OK with it and didn’t pressure me into having the cake. I find that as long as you are confident in your reasoning for becoming vegan and and stay strong the people around you will respect that. Of course this didn’t mean that I now miss out on the mini parties, I still join in on the fun and games when someone’s birthday comes around. Hey, any excuse to get a 15 minutes break, right? 😉
4. Business trips, meetings
There have been a few occasions where I have been away on business trips to visit clients for a meeting or on a training course for a couple of days for work where I didn’t have much control over the food choices I had at breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s quite a tricky one as it could be the case that your hosting company may have ordered some food in advance for you and your colleagues, and it may come across rude not to appreciate their effort. Throwing your nose up in the air to their food is sometimes just not an option. In this situation. I usually go for the vegetarian option if there is no vegan food available. It really depends on your relationship with the other people in the room and how comfortable you are telling them you are vegan. I know this isn’t easy for everyone, especially if your new to the lifestyle. To be respectful you could offer to step out and get some food some nearby in a shop or cafe that is vegan friendly. If you are not happy doing this I would suggest making up an excuse that you have a poor stomach and skip the food then hold off until after the meeting to load up on vegan food in a nearby shop. Otherwise another option would be to pack some food with you on your trip and either eat it before, after or even during your meeting depending how close you are with the others in the meeting with you.
Usually training courses are held in a hotel, well of the one’s I have been to. You could do some research in advance and look up their bar/restaurant menu on their website. They will at least have vegetarian options that you could request to be made dairy free, if possible. If you really want to be prepared then call up the hotel and ask them if they cater for vegans. You could inform them the course you ill be on such and such dates and organise vegan food to be prepared for you while your on the course.
Overall, I am getting into a good routine day-to-day which is allowing me to grow and thrive on this lifestyle. Each day seems to be getting easier as I’m learning to be more prepared and the people around me now know and accept my new plant based diet.