I am writing today to share some thoughts on how it is for people who are vegans working in a company that just doesn't fit their values. For the longest time, I've had to endure being in a company that not only had meat as their main and most popular item, the rest of the food was the processed and chemically-laden sort we have to stay away from if we want to be healthy.
I accepted this job only because I was in a pinch. I badly needed an income and even though it paid fairly well, I was in a hurry to get out of there. It took forever, and what made it happen was that they moved from Vancouver, BC, to Toronto, ON, thus allowing me to receive social benefits while I looked for a new job in Vancouver. LIving in Toronto is not for me - sorry lapiz lazu, it's just not my piece of cake! So, my story does have a happy ending for me.
But the time I was there, I naively beleived I could try to make some positive changes in the company. I didn't want to entirely makeover the entire list of products, but since I was a vegetarian who ate mostly organic, and knowing that this is where there is a large increase in sales every year, I gave it a try. And failed miserably. It seriously felt like discrimination. The company's motto, when I arrived, was to 'sell an expensive meal in an affordable fashion', which to me could very well include organics and vegetarian food. Just because I tried to add some items, they changed it to 'make our clients' home bountifull with food'. So no more expensive food offered: they literally changed some of their products to ensure customers just received lots and lots of food for a reasonable price.
And I wasn't the only one who was asking for healthier options. The customers themselves wanted to receive food delivery that was better for you. First, let me tell you a bit about this company: it is a company that offers customers the chance to pay for a large amount of food for Christmas and New Year's over twelve months, making it easier on them when the holidays come around. Their target population is low-income earners who live paycheck per paycheck. This way, they don't have to worry about having a turkey with all the trimmings because they've paid for it in several small payments over a long period of time, making it almost unnoticeable. The only catch is that the clients must chose among a set of predetermined hampers - or boxes, if you will - of food entirely decided by the company. No swaps allowed at all. So if you are allergic to peanuts and the hamper that you want the most out of their list has them, you have no choice but to receive your hamper with the peanuts. The company will tell you to give them away as a present - in the spirit of the holiday season - as the solution to your dilemma. The main and most popular hampers include a turkey with its stuffing and other trimmings, a box of instant mashed potatoes, frozen veggies, cans of soup, a few easy-to-make meals such as spaghetti and pancakes, and tons of bags of chips and boxes of chocolates.
This system does, however, sound like a great idea, and it definitely has tons of potential. However, what disappointed me is the owner's and the management's bitter obsession with sticking to the crappiest food possible. After being turned down for the creation of a vegetarian hamper, I chose to listen more closely to the customers and see if they had any ideas for hampers. What came up most often was to have a hamper with turkey and the trimmings, but without all the bags of chips and chocolates. They essentially wanted to have a somewhat healthy Christmas dinner. And even though there was a very high demand for it, once again, it was turned down. Why? It may have been because the idea came from the company's vegetarian, the thorn in the side of the president who clearly did not like that I refused to buy any of their hampers. His answer was that if the customers wanted healthy, there was one hamper composed of 15 jars of spaghetti sauce with all the necessary pasta to go along with it. In other words, if you want a healthy Christmas dinner, your only option was to eat Italian.
I have not been working there for a long time but the memory sticks to me like a whinny street dog that refuses to leave my side just because I used to feed him, quite a long time ago. Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think of the way I handled myself here.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.