Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trick and Travel

On the way to visit our local field office in Denver yesterday I looked out the window only to see a gorilla riding a bike. I thought to myself, "Wow - people in Denver are strange."

Then I remembered it was Halloween weekend.

Have a fabulous time Trick or Treatin', while I print out my boarding pass and venture back towards the Atlantic.


Friday, October 29, 2010

We Sing. We Dance. We Put Our Salsa On Ice…. Jason Mraz, Maine

Ali ventured from corporate research to corporate advertising one morning:

Ali: I heard on the radio this morning that Jason Mraz is playing in Bangor. Do you want to go?
Me: Yes, let's do it. I have a 10:00.
Ali: Ok.
Me: Ok.
Ali: See you at lunch.

A month later Ali and I are on the highway jetting past a magnificent amount of untouched trees, with a stash of Sisters Salsa, chips and a few old-school J-RAZ CD’s in the back seat. 

Please note: Jason Mraz = J-RAZ .This was the nickname I insisted we call him after 20 minutes into the trip - so let’s just stick with that.

Rich green pine needles border a stark blue sky. I’m wondering why I don’t spend more time in a place that has so much beauty and is in such close proximity to home. Ali is coolly singing to the music and enjoying the two-day vacation that arrives every Friday.

Our actions are methodical: Trek 2.5 hours north, drive past our exit, reverse our direction, navigate to the hotel, check-in at the front desk, find our room, put our salsa on ice because there isn’t a mini fridge, giggle continuously at the fact that we can see the enormous Paul Bunyan statue from our window and mosey to the concert to find our seats.

Two things:                       
  1. I really don’t know anything about Jason Mraz before I find myself standing in the middle of a field in Bangor waiting for the show to begin.
  2. That’s a lie. I know he likes hats because there’s a sea of the accessory and they all seem to be perched ever so slightly - covering the faces of the fans wearing them.
Patiently waiting for the music to begin, Ali tells me he’s a vegan and that I should download the album We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. because... “You would like it. The lyrics are great.” Then I remember that my sister Jodie, who is a Berklee School of Music grad and dissects a tune the moment she hears it, did have a slightly bitter tone when I told her I was going to the concert.

It all started to add up: Ali enjoys the sweet sultry lyrics, Jodie approves of the riffs, I generally like most vegan people, and there are chips and salsa awaiting our return– this might turn out to be fabulous evening.

And it was.

He was fun and energizing, and although I didn’t really know any of the lyrics at that point, the live music turned out to be just as good as the recorded version I downloaded to my iPhone the next day (while finishing up a few projects at the office).

The truth is his music is a burst of positivity in world where positivity rarely gets promoted. And during the show the audience seemed comfortable, appreciating the music and the relaxed environment. Because while J-RAZ was up front crooning a crowd and flashing “FREEDOM” on recycled bottles behind him, Ali and I spent the concert in the back being our own biggest fans - laughing and dancing through the crisp Maine air.

The next morning when we departed the hotel, said "adios" to Mr. Bunyan and set forth south-bound to Portland, we both agreed the artist and the album deserve an A+.

Moral of the story: Check out J-Raz if you haven’t AND don’t assume that your hotel room will contain a mini fridge.


The salsa…on ice.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Remembering The Warmth… ME, MA

Bullies and Business Dinners

I'm packing my bags for the next business trip and wanted to share this with you. 

Man: Do you have a boyfriend?
Me: No.
Man: Are you dating anyone?
Me: No.
Man: Yep, see vegan lifestyle – hard to deal with.

This conversation took place around a table with seven colleagues at one of the first business dinners I attended after I became a vegan. I was tired and at a home-style Italian restaurant in Santa Monica that made all of their pasta with eggs. The server was wonderful and accommodated my needs with some tasty soups and other dishes. I responded to the comment above with: “I’m actually a very easy person to get along with.” And it diffused the train wreck of comments that could have taken place.

To put it into perspective, two months into being a vegan I traveled for business from Maine to Tennessee to Boston to California back to Boston and back to Maine in a matter of three weeks. Not only was I adjusting to the diet, but I was also tired and grumpy, and up to my nose in projects.

Business dinner after business dinner, I was challenged and asked repeatedly about my change to a vegan diet. I replied courteously to their questions and never preached my opinion about veganism in a forceful manner. While the majority of people were very encouraging and positive about my choice, others took a fairly negative stance and their comments were starting to take their toll.

One day, after I caught up on sleep, I re-grouped and thought, “I don’t do this for anyone but myself.” An obvious statement, but in the middle of projects and neon Post-it notes and airport layovers and design classes, I didn’t have time to really think.

Now I prep for business dinners. 

Once a restaurant is chosen I look at the menu, I call ahead, I talk with the chef, I do what I have to… but I refuse to miss a business dinner. I’m eager to be a participant not because it’s almost positive the company will pick up the tab. Yes, that’s a nice perk – however the real reason is that in professional environments, some of the strongest connections are made outside of the office. 

You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable or out of place because you’re a vegan. And I would encourage you to make it to every business dinner possible at the start of your career. Even if your boss’s favorite restaurant is Billy Bob’s Steak House down town, suck it up and get an unappetizing excuse for a salad. Eat when you get home. Your career is important, and there’s nothing like face time with your fellow employees.

In the future maybe your boss will take your lifestyle choices into account and ask for some vegan-friendly restaurant suggestions. I know things around here have improved leaps and bounds. However, when you’re working your way up the corporate ladder, know that the tiny sacrifices that you make now will help build your success in the future.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Power of Replacement: Farewell Pretty, Pretty Coach Bag

Dear Coach bag,

Thank you for being my friend for the past year and half. I have loved the way you sit on my hip. We first started our friendship when I acquired you for my first anniversary at work. You were a present to myself for a year of achievements. Now, with your leather handles and trim, I’m going to have to give you up. We’ve had so many memories together – the plane trips, the traveling, the laughter, the tears. We’ve seen L.A., New York, and Boston together. We’ve gone to baby showers and business meetings and birthday parties, but I fear all of this gallivanting must end. It is time for me to purchase a vegan-friendly everyday work bag that I can use in your place. I have found a good owner for you, who is excited and happy to take you off my hands. Goodbye and good luck.

Yours truly,


The Power of Replacement. Replacing everyday items in your life may be hard. I loved my Coach bag. I really didn’t want to give it up and honestly I didn't really have to. It is a good, durable bag that will last for years to come. However, I wanted something that I could reach for every morning, walk in the office, and know that my personal belongings were now being carried by something that met my vegan ideals. 

In analyzing my thought process I am astounded how the human spirit can be attached to something so physical. Even more astounding is the concept that the more you have, the more you want. Physical things have an expiration date and the materials items we own now will not be so important at the end of our journey.

It is a physical thing, a leather bag. I am happy that I have gotten to use it for so long, but I’m OK with letting it go. The transition to a vegan lifestyle, unlike a vegan diet, is a slow process for me. And while I’ve been able to pass along my bag to another owner, there are still items that I own that include animal products. And rather than feeling guilt that I’m not a “true vegan” or should give them up immediately, I have decided to take my time. Partially because I’m on a budget and can’t disregard half my wardrobe, and partially because I’m emotionally attached to these things. 

I think about everything I have with gratitude. I’m grateful I have the free will to use these products, to own them, to the animal that was sacrificed for them. And I am more aware now than ever before of the ability of my purchasing power and how the “replacements” in my life can really make a difference. 

As I move forward I'll be able to focus on buying all vegan-friendly items, but in this transition I'll appreciate what I have. 


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stickie Saying… #1

Simple Observations… Portland, ME

Tempeh Time…Lalibela Farm, ME

When it's Saturday at the Portland Farmers’ Market I’m a kid in a candy shop. It’s true. Put greens in front of me and I’m bouncing around the kitchen two hours later on a chlorophyll high trying to mastermind something tasty.

I never really thought of buying tempeh because I always hated the texture and taste. However, over the past summer I have learned to enjoy it. 

I give all credit to Lalibela Farm owner Jaime (who told me she is a vegan!) for talking me into buying my first black bean pack. She has the most amiable energy, a genuine smile and sells the most delicious tempeh I have ever tasted. Honestly, it's the only kind I buy - made in Maine and certified organic.

Visit Lalibela Farm’s website to find out where you can purchase their products, learn more about the ingredients they use, and get neat recipe ideas.

Happy Tempehing!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

VAY-gun, Vegan, Vee- GUN? What?

“No, we don’t eat fish,
No, we don’t eat cheese,
Cuz we only eat stuff
From plants and trees.”

-Mary F., 
Manager, Corporate Communications

Thank you Mary. I think this tidbit has been the most positive external contribution to My Vegan Corporate Life thus far.

And for all of you that can’t keep producing rhymes about what a vegan actually is, because maybe you don’t know, or maybe you lack in lyrical capability. Here is a tiny poem just for you.  

(I understand this ridiculous, but at least it’s fun.)

What is a Vegan?

Let’s start with inflection, the intonation of the word
Vegan is actually a noun, but can sound more like a verb.

Pronounce it like  “see” but change the “s” to a “v”
Then add a “gyn” or “gun” to end the word harmoniously.

If “vegetarian” is familiar to you, you have most your peers beat,
Because you understand the concept of a diet without meat.

Add the meat free concept and a sprinkle of humane ideals
And you get one vivacious veggie full, no-animal-product meal.

And if you remember anything about vegans I recommend this point to thee, That they consciously make the effort to live and eat animal free.

In their products, in their food, in the attire that they wear,
It’s aimed to be a peaceful lifestyle right down to each last hair.

Now is it best to choose this way of living? Maybe no, maybe yes.
You should make the judgment for yourself to decide what personally works best.

So I have begun to make my choices with these peaceful ideals in mind. It’s still a process, but I like it, life has never been so kind.


PS - For a more "sophisticated" write-up on what a vegan is, just type “vegan” into the nearest search engine and you’ll find a multitude of insightful, maybe not so entertaining, descriptions.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Welcome to My Vegan Corporate Life

So I should probably tell you what this blog is all about.
This blog is about the process. Maybe about the past, inclinations of the future – but for the most part it’s about the present. The choices I have, the choices I make. The way in which they blend together to make a positive impact on me, the people around me, and this world. I am not perfect, nor will I pretend to be. I can only give you my observations, my thoughts, the world through my eyes. A corporate world mixed with a vegan lifestyle. I hope I can make you see that it’s all about perception, parallax, a viewpoint that may not be in line with yours, but is peaceful and promising. 
So you’re welcome to read my entries, to perpend my perceived perplexities, to possibly propose or produce personal changes for yourself. (Alliteration....the product of listening to that darn rap music while writing!) Perhaps even making baby steps towards a healthier life and a more peaceful human existence. 
Visit often for happy thoughts, yummy recipes, and promising events on My Vegan Corporate Life

Thanks, Danie