Being Plant Based in Corporate America

Friday is donut day. The last day of the month is Cake Day. Someone sealed a deal? Let’s have cookies! Wait. It’s Monday? Time for bagels! That is how the week rolls in my office in the middle of corporate America. Weekly meetings mean bowls of M&Ms at both ends of the table. Our staff meetings have turned into Root Beer Float making time (no joke, that actually happened). Does this sound familiar?

While I sit with my water waiting for these meetings to be over so that I can head back to my desk and enjoy my made-at-home salad full of fresh veggies, beans and a light home-made vinegar based dressing, I ponder how it is that I am the only person in a room full of people NOT participating in this processed food party.

I am somewhat of an anomaly in the office. I am the girl who brings glass jars filled with her own salad dressing made at home and a huge lunch sack filled with my left-over dinner-for-lunch concoctions and tons of fruits and veggies for snacks. I have a sit-stand work station and I run ultra-marathons. I am labeled “the healthy one” and apparently sometimes make others feel guilty about their food choices. How did I become the bad guy?

Some days it frustrates me. Some days it angers me. Yet some days, I feel sad for these people. I want to help them. I want them to feel as good as I feel and I want them to see how what they consume really does affect the way they work and live.

So what do I do? I share. Without forcing anything on anyone in the office, I share by doing the following:

  1. Lead by example. When people ask what is in my lunch, I tell them and go one step further and give them a small sample to take back to their desk. Most times, they like it!
  2. Pass on information. I share the most recent health articles promoting a plant-based diet with my boss who struggles with eating. He appreciates it and has since stopped consuming soda! *However, if they are not open to this info, don’t force it!
  3. Encourage exercise. I sometimes run on my lunch hour and always take the stairs (to the 6th floor mind you) which ironically intrigues people when they see me. A few others have followed in my footsteps and together we take breaks to walk the stairs and get our steps in.
  4. Educate yourself. I have taken eCornell’s Plant Based Certification Course and Rouxbe’s online plant-based cooking certification. Sure I walk the talk but I also want to have the science behind me to back it up. I read nutrition books incessantly.
  5. Make suggestions. I recently set up a meeting with the chef in our corporate cafeteria. I inquired as to whether or not we could have a baked potato bar where we can have plain potatoes to fix as we please with the salad bar toppings. He agreed and gave me a week to see how it panned out. I spread the word to everyone and encouraged the chef to use any remaining potatoes for breakfast the next morning. Waste not want not! Now our potato bar is a permanent fixture in our cafeteria.

Corporate American doesn’t have to be the capitol of processed foods. If you plant the seed of healthy eating, others will follow. It may take (teeny-tiny) baby steps but it can happen. Stop hiding in your cubicle downing your salad bowls. Walk tall, stand proud and crunch that kale loudly so others will know and hopefully ask questions. Remember, a little information can go a long way with someone.

Stay plant-strong!

~Pam

**Please welcome Pam Kropf to the Engine 2 Team!**

Pam is an Engine 2 Contributor, sharing her experience as a plant-strong parent, ultra runner and food coach with our readers. Known as Trailmomma on social media, Pam is the mother of two feisty active kiddos. She has been plant-based since she was 16 years old. Born in New Jersey, now a resident of Northern California, she loves to travel. Pam has earned a certificate from eCornell in Plant-Based Nutrition and is a graduate of Rouxbe’s Plant-Based Cooking Program. She is a certified Food For Life Coach and a Paralegal. You can find Pam in the Engine 2 Plant-Strong Community Group on Facebook.