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Living with friends or family who eat meat can be difficult at times. Opening the fridge and seeing a cut up cow can be very upsetting, so I have some tips that have helped my roommates and I deal with the issue of food.

  • Decide what can be shared. I’m ok with my roommates using my plates and eating utensils for their meat-based dishes. I am not, however, comfortable with my pans, cutting boards, and some other kitchen supplies touching animal products. My roommates and I took an hour out of our day to divide the cabinets and shelves among us. We each have a couple of shelves designated for items we don’t mind sharing with others (with permission!) and another couple of shelves for our “off-limits” items.
  • Set up a cooking schedule. The smell of an animal cooking really bothers me and I prefer to not be around when my roommates are making their dinner. Our kitchen is also on the small side and does not fit three adults comfortably at one time. To help with this, we decided to create a cooking schedule. I am generally the first one home so I cook before everyone else. I clean up after myself and then the boys will sometimes cook together. I generally eat with my roommates once they are done cooking. This schedule is obviously not set in stone as our days do fluctuate but it helps us all to have an idea of what to expect each day.
  • Set up boundaries in the fridge and pantry. I firmly think that meat should not be placed on the top shelves of the fridge to prevent the juices from dripping onto items below. This is both a preference I have as a vegan and a health concern. So my roommates and I made some rules for the organization of the food: meat as close to the bottom as possible, our leftovers and excess items in the middle, and everything else (drinks, unused food, condiments, etc.) towards the top and in the door. ¬†This system also makes it easy for us to see what we are running low on and what food might be close to spoiling and needs to be used soon.
  • Label everything! Create a system for labeling your food items. Each of us writes our initials on the food we buy. We frequently share food but labeling it with initials helps in another way: I know that the food I buy is safe for me to eat, but when I see a food item with my roommates’ initials on it I know to be careful about using it. Initials aren’t the only way to label; you have your roommates put a rubber band on items that may contain animal products, label with a “V” for vegan or vegetarian, “O” for omnivore, etc.

And perhaps most importantly…

  • Respect each other. I cannot respect the practice of eating animals and animal products. And though it pains me that these products are so common in our lives, it is hard to get around the fact that these products are culturally acceptable (at least in my culture). And though my roommates take part in this industry, they are not bad people. I respect them though I do not respect their choice. And they respect my choice though they disagree. It is because we respect each that we are able to live together peacefully (for the most part… ūüėõ ) and found ways to ensure each of us can live with the others comfortably.

The professional world can be tricky to navigate. ¬†As I begin to build my reputation in the business world, I am learning a lot about networking and the dos and don’ts of business etiquette.

Today I attended my first professional luncheon hosted by a local accounting firm. ¬†Because I had an hour between class and the luncheon, I ate a small lunch (homemade black bean burritos) before the luncheon began. ¬†The luncheon went well and few noticed I wasn’t eating. ¬†I have some tips for those who may be attending professional luncheons in the future.

1. ¬†Don’t assume. I assumed that the luncheon would be a buffet and I, luckily, was right. ¬†Had I been wrong…. well, I’m not sure what I would have done honestly. ¬†When in doubt, e-mail the organizer of the event and ask about the menu. ¬†You do not need to state that you are vegan, just that you have some questions. ¬†You might be able to skip the meal and eat before or after the event, or bring your own food.

Once you find out what kind of menu (plated vs. buffet, what food is served, who is doing the catering) you can decide what next to do.  If you need to eat at the event and are not able to bring your own food, contacting the catering company or the restaurant is the next step.  Contacting the restaurant or caterer directly also cuts out the middle man and provides you with more accurate information.  The event organizer may not know every ingredient of every dish and does not likely have the ability to get you a meal that fits your requirements.

2. ¬†Be careful of what you say. Don’t tell people you are lactose intolerant when you are not just to avoid dairy, but it is ok to say you are not hungry (even though you may be) when someone asks why you are not eating. ¬†It is also ok to change the subject if people start questioning you about what you are eating if you are not comfortable discussing your diet. ¬†You may run into individuals who take jokes too far or who may make rude comments about your choices. ¬†Remember to rise above the comments and tell them that you are not ok with what they have said but you can discuss it later.

3.  Above all, relax and have fun. I know it can be difficult to watch others eat meat and deal with comments and looks, but enjoy the luncheon for what it is: a chance to network, possibly learn something new, and a break from your regular work routine.

If you have any tips for dealing with professional events leave a comment!



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