Undercover vegan at work? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 04-25-2016, 08:33 PM
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Undercover vegan at work?

I never expected to feel so anxious about telling people at work that I am vegan!

I just started back to work this week (was away for a year). My co-workers had left me welcome gifts and everything on my desk had dairy in it - except for the flowers. It was so sweet of everyone.... I just thanked them and I couldn't bring myself to say that I won't be eating any of it. I kind of felt like a fraud for accepting it. I put it all in a drawer (to give away at some point?) Later in the lunchroom, a couple of other co-workers asked if I was still vegetarian and I panicked. I said yes....and, umm.... I also stopped eating dairy and eggs. A guy in the room said 'oh, so you mean plant-based?' And I just turned red and nodded. I couldn't bring myself to mention honey, or make-up, or any other vegan transition. I couldn't even say the word 'vegan'. Wow. What is wrong with me? I didn't expect to feel this nervous about it. I'm perfectly comfortable with it at home and with friends and family. My co-workers are nice people, I have no excuse. Does anyone else have this much trouble telling co-workers that they are vegan?
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#2 Old 04-26-2016, 03:59 AM
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If someone leaves something nonvegan on my desk while I am not there, I generally just accept it and give it away to someone else and thank them for the thought. If a person hands it to me while I am there, I politely decline but thank them and do explain that I am vegan and do not consume animal products.

When I first went vegan I didn't tell a soul for a month. Eventually I came out to others when I felt more confident and knowledgeable of what I was doing and able to explain it. I was also in a job transition, and had started back in a department I had left some time ago. I told them I was vegetarian at first because vegan seemed to be so radical. Funny thing is, my manager at that time said she had a friend who was vegan and she seemed so positive about telling me this and how great it is. So I finally just told her I am actually a vegan lol. And after that I didn't have too much trouble. I don't exactly announce it to people, but will say something if offered nonvegan items. I had confided to someone who trained me in at the job I am at now and SHE made it a point to announce it to everyone, so they all know now. It was awkward because I was the new person, but eventually once they got to know me they have all been great about it. I can see how it would be awkward though if you are coming back to a job after being away. "Vegan" implies so many things to so many people and you just want to fit in and not be seen as that far out person lol. I think that vegan is becoming much more acceptable in social circles though, even at work. People might not entirely understand it, but they understand the "diet" choice.

I find it awkward when people leave treats on my desk anyway. In fact I am thinking of putting up a sign to ask before leaving treats on my desk. IDK though, maybe that is a bit extreme too. It's one of those situations that is not black and white, that is for sure!

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#3 Old 04-26-2016, 08:00 AM
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It's okay to feel nervous about telling people, even the nice ones, that you are vegan. Considering how much harassment we usually receive, this is no surprise. I think the easiest way to explain vegan "diet" to people is to say that you only eat greens, veggies, nuts, fruits and berries and not to dwelve on the fine points.
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#4 Old 04-26-2016, 09:11 AM
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That feeling is completely normal! There is such negativity around the word vegan and veganism, partly due because it's viewed as being so extreme. Personally, I remember how I viewed veganism years before I became vegan and I was definitely judgemental mostly because I didn't understand. So knowing that I judged veganism, I was worried that others would judge me the same. I did get lots of questions at first, all of the typical stuff that everyone gets, some people resisted a bit and made fun of it or got irritated by my choices. But in the end they are my choices, and they make me feel healthier and better about myself and that's all that really matters.

Don't worry about announcing it to the world, you will in time when you're ready. You can start with your trusted friends, then maybe one coworker eventually. Just let it come out naturally. In my experience it might make one or two people uncomfortable at first but that's a reflection of something they feel about themselves and their own diet. Once people see that you aren't trying to convert them, lol they seem to relax and mostly get curious about what you eat. I get questions about my lunch and what I'm eating almost everyday

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#5 Old 04-26-2016, 03:47 PM
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Jenn2,

They gave you those gifts, which is nice, but did not know you are vegan.

No harm, no foul.

I would stick to my principles.....being vegan.....and kinda ease into it......if that works for you. Maybe eat bread, but decline the butter? After several of these events, the vegan announcement is inevitable. Or just pull the band aid off and let the chips fall where they do.

I used the slow approach at work, but have run into a few folks who just come out and say that they're vegan.

Do what you feel comfortable with, but don't compromise your beliefs to appease someone else.
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#6 Old 04-26-2016, 07:36 PM
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It's unlikely you'll come in to work to find another desk full of food items again, right? So go forward from here. Pass around any of the items you received and say something like "Everyone was so sweet, but this is too much for me, please help yourselves." Try not to make the way you eat a topic of discussion for a while if it makes you uncomfortable, and use or don't use the word "vegan", it's not that important. Eventually most everyone will come to know that you are vegan, some will accept it and accommodate you, and some might give you a hard time - it's that way about everything. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. And you will probably find that people are only curious about it initially and it's much less of an issue with time.
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#7 Old 04-26-2016, 07:51 PM
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I suggest a diplomatic, low-key approach, like wearing this shirt on the first day of work:




_________

Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
- United Nations' World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/
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#8 Old 04-27-2016, 12:12 PM
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Yeah sometimes I get really nervous to tell people I am vegan too.
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#9 Old 04-28-2016, 05:06 AM
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I recently had to go to an offsite work luncheon and it happened to be on a Friday, which is apparently is a day Christians don't eat meat. I had ordered some vegetable stir fry dish, which for the type of restaurant/ sports bar type place, was actually pretty good, but towards the end of meal, someone, ( not some one I see very often but works for my dept) brought up ' dan, I didn't know you were the religious sort, good for you not being tempted!'


"huh? "- me


'you know, for lent!'


"'oooooh, no, im not, I just don't eat meat" and I guess that counts as my vegan 'coming out' to some coworkers I don't really see, and went from nice catholic boy to radical hippy!...no one cared, 1 person asked me a few questions and brought up paleo in some awkward/ 6 degrees of separation, cheap metaphor that I forget. I never made it much of a point in telling people, most of my work friends and people I actually do work with, know, and just like my regular outside of work friends and family, no one cares.


I want my offended/ oppressed moment! people are just too understanding these days!

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#10 Old 04-28-2016, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Naturebound View Post
If someone leaves something nonvegan on my desk while I am not there, I generally just accept it and give it away to someone else and thank them for the thought. If a person hands it to me while I am there, I politely decline but thank them and do explain that I am vegan and do not consume animal products.

When I first went vegan I didn't tell a soul for a month. Eventually I came out to others when I felt more confident and knowledgeable of what I was doing and able to explain it. I was also in a job transition, and had started back in a department I had left some time ago. I told them I was vegetarian at first because vegan seemed to be so radical. Funny thing is, my manager at that time said she had a friend who was vegan and she seemed so positive about telling me this and how great it is. So I finally just told her I am actually a vegan lol. And after that I didn't have too much trouble. I don't exactly announce it to people, but will say something if offered nonvegan items. I had confided to someone who trained me in at the job I am at now and SHE made it a point to announce it to everyone, so they all know now. It was awkward because I was the new person, but eventually once they got to know me they have all been great about it. I can see how it would be awkward though if you are coming back to a job after being away. "Vegan" implies so many things to so many people and you just want to fit in and not be seen as that far out person lol. I think that vegan is becoming much more acceptable in social circles though, even at work. People might not entirely understand it, but they understand the "diet" choice.

I find it awkward when people leave treats on my desk anyway. In fact I am thinking of putting up a sign to ask before leaving treats on my desk. IDK though, maybe that is a bit extreme too. It's one of those situations that is not black and white, that is for sure!
Naturebound - Thanks for your story, and you example on what to do with the gifts - I think my reason was that I was afraid people would think it is radical, too. It would certainly be awkward for someone else to announce this to my workplace! Luckily, that hasn't happened for me, yet (although I can imagine my supervisor doing it...she did something similar when I told her my opinion on something...she pointedly brought the topic up at the lunch table, as though she wanted to see a debate between myself and the other co-worker.)
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#11 Old 04-28-2016, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Kaurum View Post
It's okay to feel nervous about telling people, even the nice ones, that you are vegan. Considering how much harassment we usually receive, this is no surprise. I think the easiest way to explain vegan "diet" to people is to say that you only eat greens, veggies, nuts, fruits and berries and not to dwelve on the fine points.
Kaurum - I am glad it's okay to be nervous, even though it didn't seem to make sense at the time...now after reading these responses, I think I've narrowed my problem down to not wanting my supervisor to find out because of the way she likes to stir drama up sometimes. Great idea to keep the details to a minimum for everybody because that will give them less to talk about!
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#12 Old 04-28-2016, 01:22 PM
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That feeling is completely normal! There is such negativity around the word vegan and veganism, partly due because it's viewed as being so extreme. Personally, I remember how I viewed veganism years before I became vegan and I was definitely judgemental mostly because I didn't understand. So knowing that I judged veganism, I was worried that others would judge me the same. I did get lots of questions at first, all of the typical stuff that everyone gets, some people resisted a bit and made fun of it or got irritated by my choices. But in the end they are my choices, and they make me feel healthier and better about myself and that's all that really matters.

Don't worry about announcing it to the world, you will in time when you're ready. You can start with your trusted friends, then maybe one coworker eventually. Just let it come out naturally. In my experience it might make one or two people uncomfortable at first but that's a reflection of something they feel about themselves and their own diet. Once people see that you aren't trying to convert them, lol they seem to relax and mostly get curious about what you eat. I get questions about my lunch and what I'm eating almost everyday
JennB - okay, I'm glad that my feeling is normal! Vegan was not even a word that I've heard or used before watching those documentaries, but I remember thinking strictly from an omnivore's perspective and it was almost a completely different way of thinking. I probably might have judged a vegan back then, too! I'm glad that your friends are so accepting and curious
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#13 Old 04-28-2016, 01:24 PM
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Jenn2,

They gave you those gifts, which is nice, but did not know you are vegan.

No harm, no foul.

I would stick to my principles.....being vegan.....and kinda ease into it......if that works for you. Maybe eat bread, but decline the butter? After several of these events, the vegan announcement is inevitable. Or just pull the band aid off and let the chips fall where they do.

I used the slow approach at work, but have run into a few folks who just come out and say that they're vegan.

Do what you feel comfortable with, but don't compromise your beliefs to appease someone else.
Vegan Dave - thanks for the pep talk, you are right, it will be inevitable. I have no plans to compromise my beliefs. I guess I just need to feel my way through the new situations rather than avoid them or stress about them!
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#14 Old 04-28-2016, 01:27 PM
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It's unlikely you'll come in to work to find another desk full of food items again, right? So go forward from here. Pass around any of the items you received and say something like "Everyone was so sweet, but this is too much for me, please help yourselves." Try not to make the way you eat a topic of discussion for a while if it makes you uncomfortable, and use or don't use the word "vegan", it's not that important. Eventually most everyone will come to know that you are vegan, some will accept it and accommodate you, and some might give you a hard time - it's that way about everything. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. And you will probably find that people are only curious about it initially and it's much less of an issue with time.
Poppy - you are right, gifts are not an everyday thing at our office. You offered a really good plan to get rid of some of those treats, I think I might use your example verbatim. Thanks for the encouragement!
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#15 Old 04-28-2016, 01:29 PM
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I suggest a diplomatic, low-key approach, like wearing this shirt on the first day of work:



David3 - haha that would make for a very interesting day! It would be like Vegan Dave suggested - ripping the band aid off. And starting a new wardrobe trend while I'm at it wish I was that gutsy.
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#16 Old 04-28-2016, 01:31 PM
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Yeah sometimes I get really nervous to tell people I am vegan too.
Jasmine - Thanks, I'm glad I'm not the only one!
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#17 Old 04-28-2016, 01:32 PM
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I recently had to go to an offsite work luncheon and it happened to be on a Friday, which is apparently is a day Christians don't eat meat. I had ordered some vegetable stir fry dish, which for the type of restaurant/ sports bar type place, was actually pretty good, but towards the end of meal, someone, ( not some one I see very often but works for my dept) brought up ' dan, I didn't know you were the religious sort, good for you not being tempted!'


"huh? "- me


'you know, for lent!'


"'oooooh, no, im not, I just don't eat meat" and I guess that counts as my vegan 'coming out' to some coworkers I don't really see, and went from nice catholic boy to radical hippy!...no one cared, 1 person asked me a few questions and brought up paleo in some awkward/ 6 degrees of separation, cheap metaphor that I forget. I never made it much of a point in telling people, most of my work friends and people I actually do work with, know, and just like my regular outside of work friends and family, no one cares.


I want my offended/ oppressed moment! people are just too understanding these days!
Muttley - wow you got it easy - take my future awkward moment, please I've encountered the 6 degrees separation metaphor as well (friend: 'I did the whole 30 and it is SO difficult!') I'm glad no one cares about your diet, maybe it will be the same for me and I am just over thinking things
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#18 Old 05-05-2016, 10:21 AM
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JennB - okay, I'm glad that my feeling is normal! Vegan was not even a word that I've heard or used before watching those documentaries, but I remember thinking strictly from an omnivore's perspective and it was almost a completely different way of thinking. I probably might have judged a vegan back then, too! I'm glad that your friends are so accepting and curious
Very few people were born vegan, and we all started somewhere. It is a different way of thinking, mainly because we have been conditioned to view it in a skewed way that's its natural the way we treat animals. It really isn't but it's how we deal with what we are doing at the time.
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#19 Old 05-07-2016, 05:11 PM
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I'm pretty open about it at work. My coworkers frequently order food for lunch, so my first day on the job I just told them "Oh, I don't eat meat" or something like that. Sometimes I order lunch with them and I always get the vegan option. Everyone is used to it and pretty cool about it. My boss asks me questions in a very genuine way.

I don't mind talking about it. Sometimes you may even plant a seed.

I also had an associate who was in and out of the office a lot, but I swore she hated me because she never acknowledged me. Then one day I heard her tell someone she was vegetarian and I jumped into the conversation and we instantly bonded! You never know what could happen!
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#20 Old 05-12-2016, 10:05 AM
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@ThatVeganBabe - Good for you! It is nice to receive genuine questions I agree that there is a possibility to plant a seed/inspire someone to reduce or eliminate animal products, though I would want to be sure those people decide to do it for themselves and not because of guilt or pressure from me.

How cool that it has helped you bond with your co-worker! Funny and surprisingly enough, it has helped me bond with my neighbour at the office too! More on that below...
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#21 Old 05-12-2016, 10:07 AM
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Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and advice on this topic. In case any of you were curious about whatever happened, here is my update 3 weeks after starting back at work:

I tried to give some of those milk chocolates to my new neighbour in my cubicle and ended up telling her that I am vegan. It turned out to be a great bonding experience for us! She can relate to my problems with labels. I learned that she is Muslim and therefore can't eat anything processed that may contain animal products because the ingredients could be derived from pork. I am excited to sit beside her now, we're going to be sharing a lot with each other about animal-free foods and where in the city to find them.

I also told my workgroup and it was a much smoother experience than I thought it would be. My friend brought cupcakes to our meeting and warned and apologized to me that they contain eggs. The guy beside me overheard and said
him - 'oh, you don't eat eggs anymore?'
me - 'no, I stopped eating eggs...and dairy.'
him - 'can I ask why? Like, is it a health issue, or just something you decided to do?'
me - 'I saw a couple of documentaries while on mat leave and decided that it's best for me.'
him - 'Oh, good for you'
me - 'yes, it's helpful for treats because otherwise I have zero willpower!'
and then the whole group joked about how much cake and treats we can or cannot refrain from eating in our lunchroom (people bring cakes or treats to the lunchroom at work almost every week).

In summary, I feel better now that people know, I guess I just needed to get comfortable there before telling them.

Thanks for listening
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#22 Old 05-12-2016, 11:59 AM
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maybe it will be the same for me and I am just over thinking things
Sounds like you were right! glad it went so smoothly for you! I think working in a corporate type environment, as it sounds like you do, ( I also do) people are pretty modern and accepting of things these days. the surprising part to me sometimes, is with the salty, old hot rodders I come across as part of a side gig, who you would imagine are fairly close minded, but seem to be just as accepting as my day job coworkers. sure there are a few 'meat heads' who need to voice their opinion/ prove their manliness but I think you'll find that anywhere!


funny little side story; theres a car club/ and race car builder in a separate part of the building I have my shop at, and they were having a cook out/ open house last summer and I was supposed to meet a potential customer there for some metal work they wanted done. coincidentally he was talking to me and another guy before he knew it was me who he was supposed to be meeting. I had a plate of onion rings I think, and he was pushing the issue of why I didn't have a hamburger or something to the point where I said I don't eat meat. being the fairly obnoxious sort, he wanted to prove how ignorant he was by calling me some combination of gay/ nancy/ whatever else.

the satisfying part came about 5 seconds later when my friend who was standing there with a big grin on his face, introduced me as the person who would potentially be doing the work for them....I politely (delightfully!) declined the job
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#23 Old 05-12-2016, 01:31 PM
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the satisfying part came about 5 seconds later when my friend who was standing there with a big grin on his face, introduced me as the person who would potentially be doing the work for them....I politely (delightfully!) declined the job
Haha, that is perfect! And what a lesson to that other guy, I bet it was sweet to watch him realize what he just did
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#24 Old 05-13-2016, 02:38 AM
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There's a lot of stigma attached to the word 'vegan' and I totally understand where you're coming from.

I think the nervousness to say it is because you know the reaction you're going to get from meat eaters, you'll probably have to answer loads of questions as well.

After a while you learn to not give a damn, I'm 100% confident in my decision to not harm animals so I have nothing to be embarrassed about. If you can develop that mind set it makes it a lot easier.
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#25 Old 05-13-2016, 05:26 AM
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I am so happy to hear that it went well for you! I get nervous about telling people, especially since I am newly transitioned, because if they try to give me any of the common omnivore excuses I know I have a tendency to get a bit snarky and self-righteous. It is hard sometimes to find the balance between not letting people tease you and walk all over you, and not being that "annoying vegan" that everyone fears.
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#26 Old 05-13-2016, 06:59 AM
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Did your coworkers know what a vegan was? I brought in a vegan "pulled pork" sandwich for lunch one day and when I told my coworker what it was she had to ask what "vegan" meant. Although after I explained she was very eager to try a bite.
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#27 Old 05-13-2016, 12:33 PM
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@SteveW - I agree! I probably will have to answer more questions down the line but I was grateful not to have them all at once. I love how secure you feel! I am slowly learning not to care too much about what others think (at least at home!)

@wildflowerliz - Thank you! It is scary, especially when you read the 'stupid things omnivores say' thread (which is at the same time very entertaining) and realize how ignorant some people can be and that these might be said to you! It sounds like you are conscious of your reactions, which probably really helpful - especially with relationships at work.


@shellie - I don't know if they understand what vegan is all about, I used the word with only 2 of them in private and for everyone else I just vaguely mentioned my diet. A few of us in the office have been vegetarian for a while, so at least they get the meat part. That is cool that your coworker wanted to try a bite of your vegan 'pulled pork'! Did you make it at home? Did she seem to like it?
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#28 Old 05-14-2016, 05:29 AM
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I brought vegan banana date bread to work on Monday and everyone LOVED it! I'm sure they assumed it was vegan since I made it, but I didn't say anything until after they ate it. It was thoroughly enjoyed!
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#29 Old 05-14-2016, 06:30 AM
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I brought vegan banana date bread to work on Monday and everyone LOVED it! I'm sure they assumed it was vegan since I made it, but I didn't say anything until after they ate it. It was thoroughly enjoyed!
ThatVegan Babe, what a great way to connect with your coworkers! I'm sure the banana bread was delicious
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#30 Old 05-15-2016, 06:31 AM
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Jenn, she liked it. She said it was pretty good. She's a pretty picky eater to, so her liking it was quite the compliment I made it at home with this recipe http://blissfulbasil.com/2013/07/30/bbq-pulled-pork/
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