Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Education: Vegan is Not an Allergy

Brunch when I went to Vermont for a weekend.
The waiter that helped me get to this option was very helpful.


I have heard it over and over again when I inquire about food options. “Well we have options for people that have a gluten allergy – so I think we can accommodate you.”

Hmm, really? Because if your gluten free dish with rice is served with lamb, I’m not going to eat it.

The food service industry is so funny, and not in a “ha-ha” way. They educate about nut allergies and gluten allergies, yet a lifestyle choice is not mentioned. Most of the time it’s nowhere to be found and normally leaves us vegans with a blank stare from the wait staff and a bartering exercise.

Now let me clarify two things. First, I understand the importance of educating about an allergy comparative to a lifestyle choice. The allergy is detrimental to a person’s health and could cause serious medical issues.

Secondly, I also understand that working in a service position can be difficult. I was the front-end manager on the weekends and during the summer of a busy beach town grocery store at age 16. I would be lying if I told you there weren’t multiple occasions when I had to restrain my varsity shortstop skills from chucking a head of lettuce at the back of customers as they exited the store. Feisty? Maybe. But I’ve seen a 60-year old cashier brought to tears over a can of green beans because people can be so cruel. Honestly, it’s like what do you people want from us?

And that’s my point. I want more education.

The food industry really needs to do a better job at training their employees. Associates should know the difference between gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.

They need to go beyond listing it on their site and actually train the people that are the face of their company. For instance, I went to Chipotle this week for dinner, who addresses vegan options on their site (click here), and this was the way my order transpired.

Me: I’ll have the salad please
Woman: Would you the like the dressing?
Me: What’s in it?
Woman: It’s a chipotle-honey dressing.
Me: Ok, no thanks. It has honey and I’m a vegan.
Woman: OK, would you like any beans, meat or rice?
Me: Just the rice and veggies please.
Woman: Cheese? Sour cream?
Me: Nope, just the salsa and guacamole.

Cleary there was disconnect in service here. I stated that I was a vegan and she was unaware of what that term actually meant and therefore proceeded to ask me about the meat and dairy items. This would be a perfect opportunity for education about what a vegan is and how we make our food choices. But guess what, I’m not going to explain it to her when there are five people in line behind me waiting to be served. 

I appreciate the workflow of effective business models and it’s Chipotle, people want their burritos.

So I guess I’m just asking the food service industry to be a little more responsible - to pride themselves on educating their employees on food safety, allergies and lifestyle choices. Employees will be able to help customers in ways they couldn’t before. Leaving us vegans happy and more satisfied.

But until that day my vegan friends, keep up the negotiations at the food service counter and next time you’re in the grocery store give a little extra credit to your bagger. One day he’ll realize that putting the bread at the bottom of the bag is a bad idea.

Thanks,
Danie

Monday, March 28, 2011

Vegan Props to Fenway Park


"You can root for whatever team you want, as long as it's the Red Sox."
- Mike, My Cousin's Husband


I like sports, I do. And I have to admit that I pay closer attention to two professional sports more than the others. The first being soccer (or futbol), because I grew up with a father from Europe and a crowd of Uncles and family members that yell and scream and pack into a room to watch a Benfica game. (Which if you didn’t know is the best team around, for now and always. Don’t ever forget that.)

And the second sport is hockey. Mostly because I’m from Maine and I spend 95% of my life skating to work given it’s so damn cold up here. I’m joking… sort of. 

However, since Baseball is America’s greatest past time and everyone loves a day at the park, PETA releases the Top 10 Vegetarian-Friendly Stadiums (CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LIST) each year.

Honestly, who doesn’t love the smell of a stadium, the national anthem, the baseball caps, and the chance you might get hit in the face with a foul ball if you’re not paying attention?

From New England, naturally I consider myself a Boston fan. I remember the first time I visited Fenway Park. I thought, “This feels like home,” strange but true. I do believe if you’re a Boston fan you probably know what I’m talking about. The stadium is so quaint and lovable that you leave feeling like you need to return soon. I’ve seen games there, Dave Matthews concerts, been on tours, etc. It’s honestly just a great place.

Now, I’m proud to say that Fenway was noted on the 2010 Vegetarian-Friendly Major-League Stadiums list! Only an Honorable Mention, however a vast improvement from 2009 where the word "Fenway" was nowhere to be found.

Ball-park stadium efforts to offer healthier options really make a difference. While visiting Coors field last year, who’s ranked #5, I glanced at the restaurant key on the way to our seats and saw one salad place, one gluten free place, and vegan beer all around!

So, I’m proud that Boston added veggie dogs and hummus to their food options - seriously we vegans appreciate the effort.  Look for the 2011 rankings in June where I'm hoping Fenway will be listed for another year. 

Coors Field: Not the best seats, but some of the best vegan choices around.

I was just happy to be in Colorado, this really has nothing to do with Baseball Parks. :-) 

Thanks, 
Danie

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Faux Animal Sightings

There's an elephant in the room, literally.
Animal tracks or Danielle leaving from work tracks?

He creeped into the photo shoot via Joe, his promoter.


But seriously, who wouldn't love this chick?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Event: The Mystery of Matzah…South Portland, ME

My manager at work, Julia, is excited to share information on the new program Sowing Seeds, Braiding Community and the Mystery of Matzah Event. I wish you the best of luck in the next year. 

Thanks for sharing!

* * *

Emmer and Einkorn

The Jewish calendar is full of beautiful holidays and festivals that focus on the importance of history, tradition, and of our connection to the earth. For example, Shavuot is associated with the ripening of the first fruits of the season, and Sukkot is celebrated outdoors in a special hut lavishly decorated with the bounty of the fall harvest. But perhaps the most “famous” of these historical/agricultural holidays is Passover (aka Pesach).

Passover is a holiday connected to the tradition of matzah, when the people of Abraham hastily made bread on their flight out of Egypt and slavery. You know the story—the evil Pharaoh sent his army chasing after them, and Moses parted the Red Sea just in the nick of time.

As you can imagine, there wasn’t much time to let the dough rise, so it baked flat. That matzah was made from two ancient varieties of wheat noted in the bible, Emmer and Einkorn. 

Today, even though bread and whole grains are so central to our diet, our system is broken. Wheat prices are soaring, and unless we are lucky enough to have access to a local bakery, our bread travels a vast distance to reach our tables. Even those local bakeries must get their flour from very far away. And what kind of flour is it? It’s grown from “modern” wheat, which is engineered for perfect uniformity, high yield, and tolerance of chemicals. It lacks flavor and nutrition, and is raised on massive single-crop megafarms. Jews now eat matzah from a box. 

But it wasn’t always this way, and since the rites of Passover require the remembrance of other specific elements of the Exodus, why not also recreate the original matzah? 

* * * 
Sowing Seeds, Braiding Community

Did you know that wheat grows wild in Israel? It’s ancient, biologically diverse and full of nutrition and flavor. But ironically, Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians buy over 90% of their wheat from these US megafarms too.  How can we rescue and rebuild these heritage wheat varieties?

Enter Elisheva Rogosa and The Heritage Wheat Conservancy (www.growseed.org). Working together with the Israel Genebank, Elisheva has carefully collected and brought several varieties of these ancient wheats to New England. Through a partnership with Ms. Rogosa as our guest scholar, my synagogue (Congregation Bet Ha’am in South Portland) has gained access to Emmer and Einkorn, two nearly extinct heritage wheat species native to ancient Israel and Egypt.

So what are we going to do with these special wheats? We were awarded a special grant from the Union for Reform Judaism to fund a program we call Sowing Seeds, Braiding Community. Our program was one of only 20 grant recipients from a field of nearly 170 applicants nationwide. 

Throughout the coming year, Congregation Bet Ha’am will invite the Greater Portland community to participate in a hands-on celebration of the cycle of wheat. Rare heritage wheats will be planted locally and harvested this summer, and the crop will be processed into flour and baked into bread to share with the community. The history and culture of these rich agricultural traditions will be explored through study circles, lectures, and workshops.






Photo Credit: Elisheva Rogosa

Photo Credit: Elisheva Rogosa 

Photo Credit: Elisheva Rogosa


Get Involved: The Mystery of Matzah

We’re kicking the program off next weekend with a series of events called The Mystery of Matzah.  Join us as we explore teachings of food and community, restoring the tradition of matzah! We will be learning about the wheats and then using the flour to make traditional matzah in a portable wood-fired oven. The event is (enthusiastically!) open to the public. 

Everything is free (including the luncheons) except for the baking event, which is just $5/person to cover the cost of the rare flours. We request RSVPs for all events so we can be sure to have enough food and supplies.

Sheaves of several ancient wheat varieties will be on view throughout the weekend. Emmer and Einkorn flour will also be available for sale.

Later on this spring, under the guidance of Ms. Rogosa, Congregation Bet Ha’am will be planting a patch of heritage wheat on our Westbrook Street property as part of the next phase in the Sowing Seeds, Braiding Community project. The Mystery of Matzah weekend is just a foretaste of what we might explore with our own wheat harvest in the coming year.  We are so excited that this program will allow us to forge a deeper connection to our community, our planet, and our traditions!

THE MYSTERY OF MATZAH EVENT DETAILS:
The public is enthusiastically invited to any or all events, but RSVPs are requested to ensure enough food and materials.  Please call the office at 207-879-0028 or email office@bethaam.org.





We'll also explore artisan varieties including potato matzah, garlic-onion matzah, egg matzah, gluten free and others

To learn more about the Mystery of Matzah weekend, visit our Events page at www.facebook.com/BetHaam.

Hope to see you there!

Julia

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Vegan or Not: How to Ask For What You Want at Work


Asking for what you want at work can be difficult. From a raise to a Meatless Monday pilot program to suggesting lunch with a Senior Vice President - being prepared to start a conversation about what you want can help you present your request or idea in an intelligent and strategic way.

First and most importantly: Don’t ever present a problem in which you haven’t already thought about the solution.

Nobody likes a complainer. Complainers kill office morale. Present a solution, however, and your positivity and thoughtfulness will be appreciated. It may not be the right solution; it may not have all the factors presented in neatly fit excel sheet rows. But if you go to senior management with a problem, the first thing they're going to ask you is "How do you think we should fix it?"

I recommend identifying the opportunity or issue and communicating what you want effectively. Easier said than done sometimes, right? Before you make any recommendations or contact people within your company, analyze what information you have at hand. This can help you build a final conclusion. Here are some categories and questions to think about:

  1. Identify the Issue & Solution: What is the actual problem at hand? What is causing this issue? Is this a real or perceived issue? What would be a potential solution? How would the solution affect other employees?
  1. Clarify What You Want: What exactly am I asking for? How can I make it more specific? Am I asking for time? Am I  asking for more options? Am I just asking for acknowledgement or for action? 
  1. Logistics & Environment: Consider the size of the company? How many employees do they have? How many people are in your department? Who makes the decisions? How is the structure of the company set-up? How hard would it be to make that change? What would the cost analysis of this solution vs. the problem be?  How much did your company make in revenue last year? Can they afford to make this change? Are there any future external implications that would deter this decision?
  1. Presentation is Important: How do I present this in a way that my business partner will understand? Does that involve email, a phone call, a PowerPoint? How do people most likely receive requests in my organization?

Example: Meatless Mondays


Issue A: 
The company I work for right now does not offer strictly vegetarian or vegan dining days. My goal is to have our food vendor pilot a Meatless Monday event for 6 months.

Analyze:
  1. Identify the Issue & Solution: The opportunity is that there is a potential to create a Meatless Monday pilot program that offers vegetarian and vegan food to employees. The change would affect all employees that eat at the cafeteria on the Mondays during the pilot. It could also be an opportunity for employees to learn more about the health benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet. To bring this idea into fruition I would need to contact the head of food services and detail my request.
  2. Clarify What You Want: I am asking for all meat options to be taken from the food stations every Monday for 6 months. This includes all breakfast, lunch and snack options that have meat.
  3. Logistics & Environment: We are a company of about 10,000 employees in multiple locations. The main campus that I work at has about 3,000 employees. There are two cafeterias and our food vendor is the sole vendor for the campus. Our company was reported to be in good-standing at the end of 2010 with over $10 billion in revenue last year. I don't know if the food services vendor can offer a Meatless Monday option without incurring a loss of revenue and or services. The stations are already in place, so an inventory of the menu and new vegetarian or vegan food ideas would need to be created.
  1. Presentation is Important: An e-mail to the head of food services would be my best option, with a potential follow-up phone call. Although this seems more like a suggestion box type request, I would probably run it by my manager or VP as an FYI if needed. I would also never use the suggestion box if there is one. (The suggestion box is the place where good ideas go to get lost, forever.)

Sample E-mail:

Dear Katie [Insert Name],

My name is Danielle and I work in the Advertising Department. I have been an employee at WorkIsGrand Company for almost 4 years and have noticed that vegan and vegetarian whole food options in the cafeteria can be limited at times. As an employee that is committed to a cruelty free lifestyle, I was hoping you might consider adopting Meatless Monday events as a pilot program for a designated 6 months.

Veganism and vegetarianism offer great health benefits. Also, other major food services vendors have adopted Meatless Mondays as a way to bring awareness to the topic and promote health and wellness.

Below are three helpful links for your review:
  1. Sodexo News Release, Meatless Mondays: http://www.sodexousa.com/usen/newsroom/press/press11/meatlessmonday.asp
  2. Meatless Mondays Website: http://www.meatlessmonday.com/
  3. Vegetarian and Vegan Food Pyramid: http://www.medicinenet.com/vegetarian_and_vegan_diet/page4.htm

I would like to discuss this further if possible. Please let me know when you are available and I would be happy to find time on your calendar.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Danielle

Follow-Up Meeting: 
If the contact, Katie in this case, does schedule a time to discuss Meatless Monday, make sure you have the e-mail above in front of you and can work from the already established communication. I would also recommend having a series of questions ready. Remember, while you may be the vegan or vegetarian asking for a change, they are the food expert for the company. They know how to work the system, understand pricing and approvals. They may be the decision maker or need approval from another person. The best thing you can do is state your case in a friendly, informative manner.

Remember, you never know if you don't try. So ask a Director, AVP or VP to grab a sandwich or a coffee at some point, just be prepared with questions. If you can build a case for it, ask for the raise you want in a professional manner. Nobody is going to ask for a raise for you and I assure you nobody will think about asking for a Meatless Monday pilot program either. Plus, the worst thing that can happen in any of these situations is that whomever it is that you're asking is going to say "No". So, analyze the situation, make your case and smile while you're doing it. A positive informative presentation may go further than you think. 

Thanks,
Danie


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Life is a Running Sitcom: Winter Weight

Text Message Conversation
3/16/2011
Portland, Maine
7:16 PM



Me: I'm a tad concerned that all this non gym action is going to my hips. Bah! Cue comfort food…
Ali: I know. I've hidden my scale for the time being.
Me: Scale = Debbie Downer
Ali: Seriously. Meh.
Me: All the other happy bathroom accessories must hate it
Ali: I know. My toothbrush holder thinks it's a real bitch.
Me: Yeah my hair straightener is waiting for the day it can accidentally burn it

 



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Green Elephant: A Plethora of Vegan Options…Portland, Maine





Green Elephant
Portland, Maine


If you live in Maine and are familiar with vegetarian and vegan dining, the number one place that is always recommended is the Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro in Portland. 

Enough with the snow already… bah! The office had closed at noon. As cabin fever started to set in with the last heavy snowfall of the year (cross my fingers) Joe and I decided it was time to enjoy a Friday night by bundling up and walking to dinner. The fresh air would be good, the food would be something different from our usual and I could share the news of more veggie friendly food in Portland. 

Street light and snowfall


MY Experience 
Rating: 4 of 5
The snow was surmounting on the sidewalk, so people were generally sticking close to home the night we visited the Green Elephant. Joe and I arrived at the restaurant around 8pm and got a table immediately. The atmosphere is traditional with a hushed artsy feel.

The colors make you feel like it’s a modern, clean and comfortable place. The dining area is mostly compiled of two-four tops and just a few booths on the left wall as you enter. Service was attentive, but gave you space to look over the large menu.

I like choices. However, my only qualm was that the menu seemed too large for me to narrow down something as a definite choice for my entree. Even inquiring with the wait staff about the best choice still left me undecided. Eventually I made up my mind.

MY Food
Rating: 5 of 5
This was only the third time I had eaten at the Green Elephant in six years and I have to saw – third time is a charm. I loved my meal. Another thing I loved was that they label their vegan options for beer and wine (click here).

The menu, while extensive and a bit overwhelming, had a range of food options for vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diners.

APPETIZERS: 
Joe and I decided on the special veggie dumplings. Cooked just right and with a tasty dipping sauce. I enjoyed them so much I forgot to take a picture until half of them were gone. Whoops!

ENTRÉE: 
After much debate, I decided on the recommendation from our servers to go with the Hot & Sour Noodle Soup. It was a wonderful medley of rice noodles, bean sprouts, tofu, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, scallions, cilantro, garnished with ground peanuts and... fried wontons. I’m not exactly a soup person and I enjoyed every spoon full. It's a fairly large bowl of soup, so I couldn't finish the entire dish. 

Joe got the Pad Thai Special with Tofu. The dish was very flavorful with noodles, broccoli, carrots and peanuts. Joe thought the food was great but still hasn’t taken a 100% liking for tofu.

Me: Do you like it?
Joe: Yes, it’s great. The tofu tastes like… tofu.

DESSERT: 
For blog purposes (cough, cough) we had to get dessert, which was one area that our server did not have any hesitancy offering an opinion. The Orange-Chocolate Mousse pie was the number one choice. It was chocolaty, delicious, and approved by my meat-eating guest and myself.


Dumplings!

Hot & Sour Soup

 Pad Thai Special

Exhausted after the week and content to be enjoying good food and warmth. Not knowing Joe is taking my picture.



The Green Elephant - The happiest looking one to the left with the tree!

MY Logistics
Rating: 4 of 5
Joe and I walked to the restaurant so that we didn’t have to worry about parking. I will caution you however that Congress Street in Portland, Maine isn’t exactly the easiest place to find parking. It’s right near the Portland Museum of Art and the Civic Center, so parking can be a bit difficult depending on the events for the evening. There are parking garages close by for a fairly decent price.

The cost of the meal was appropriate for a nice evening out or a business dinner. For one glass of wine, a beer, veggie dumplings, soup, pad thai, dessert and coffee, we paid about $65.00 with tip. Obviously there are ways to slim down the price of the bill by not getting every course and there are lots of veggie friendly options within your budget. 

Overall
Rating: 4.3 of 5

I think almost anything can be made vegan on menu, so it's kind of a safe haven for veggie people like us. The service is friendly and the atmosphere pleasant. Just make sure you go in with a inkling of what you want (stir-fry, curry, soup, etc.) and you'll definitely enjoy your time at the Green Elephant.


Thanks, 
Danie

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bowdoin: Veggie Friendly College Cafeteria!

I like the Polar Bear, he's kind of cute. My old mascot, The Friar (click here), on the other hand - a little creepy. Too bad Providence didn't stick with the Dalmatian. 


As I was making my way through college as a vegetarian on sub-par cafeteria veggie burgers and a salad bar where only the most melancholy lettuce and carrots hung out, my boyfriend was in a quite opposite situation at Bowdoin College.

So while he is a meat-eater and I didn't meet him until a few years after both of us graduated, Joe was happy to share that his alma mater is actually quite veggie friendly. 

Here's to the Polar Bears!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When I Turn My Brain Loose, Will it Always Find its Way Home? Guest Blogger - Mary

Mary is the one that convinced me to start this blog. I think she saw the niche of the corporate vegan before I could grasp it myself. She's a professional writer, a great mom, a fabulous friend and a runner. 

This is for those of us that need to get lost in order to find our way back - even if it's just for a jog around the neighborhood. 

Thanks Mary


* * *



A few weeks ago, after a long run, I walked up to the passenger side of my car, opened the door and then stared for several seconds at the completely unfamiliar contents of the vehicle.


I stood gaping stupidly for several seconds, trying to figure out who had placed these strange things in my Honda, before a man spoke to me from where he stood on the driver's side. "This isn't your car," he said. "Your car is down there."

He pointed to other side of the lot, where my car -- the same make and color of the one I had just opened -- sat waiting. I stammered an apology and tried to explain.

"I'm really sorry. I'm in a trance," I said. "It happens when I run."

I have a hectic, noisy life. I have a busy job, I teach a writing class, I have two young sons and a wonderfully complex network of family and friends. I am rarely alone, and virtually never idle. Most of the time I love all the commotion. But I also need to run.

And when I run, I do a little trick I call letting my brain off-leash. I untether mentally from what I'm doing, from where I am, even from who I am, and I just run.

The first couple of miles are typically kind of unfun. They're the miles when my brain is still churning through all the detritus of the day, sorting and prioritizing and digesting and over-analyzing. But something happens at about mile three. Somewhere in there, my brain goes off-leash.

One side effect of this is that I can't run in the city. Every day, I see people jogging in place at intersections, waiting for the light to turn, navigating traffic and gauging the gaps between vehicles. I'm simply not capable of that level of calculation when my brain is off-leash.

Friends sometimes tell me they've seen me out running -- that they said hi but I didn't seem to hear or see them. And I didn't. If you woke me from a dead sleep at 2 a.m., I'd be more capable of a coherent conversation than if you tried to talk to me at mile five of a run. I won't stop. I won't see you. I'm not there.

Sometimes, around mile seven, I even have floaty, out-of-body experiences. I can watch the dark top of my ponytailed head -- I can see the shot of gray that is colonizing my right temple at a discouraging rate. I can observe my scrawny, swaying shoulders. It's fascinating.

My skeptical (non-running) friends tease me that this is a clear sign I've run a little too far. They laugh at me when I tell them it's actually a tremendously pleasant experience.

"Yeah, I love dehydration and hallucinations," they giggle. "Nothing like a near-death experience to make the evening interesting."

I know, of course, that this is not a new phenomenon. In fact, The New York Times recently ran an article about what causes the much-researched 'runner's high' that I'm presumably experiencing. Endorphins were the old theory. The new theory is that our bodies produce endocannabinoids (yes, like in cannabis) after long periods of strenuous exercise.

Honestly, I don't know why it happens. And I don't care. I just know I have to be careful to only run where I won’t encounter traffic. And that I really need to wait for my brain to get back on-leash before I go around opening car doors.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Vegan Assessment of the Conventional Vending Machine

I decided to work on this post because I was tracking some late nights at the office for a few months and regrettably was staring at this very picture below more than I would like to admit. If you have additional product information or resources that would be useful for the vegan community I encourage you to contribute. Also note that this information pertains to food products manufactured and distributed within North America.  Thanks, Danie.
A Vending Machine.


INTRO
“Vegan vending machine” is the most commonly searched term that directs readers to My Vegan Corporate Life. Why is it so confusing to understand which products are and are not vegan? Potato chips are a safe vegan choice, right? What about ChexMix? And the ingredients, although hard to pronounce and unidentifiable – are those vegan?

Vegan vending machine options are generally an enigma for anyone trying to adopt a vegan diet and for those of us that do not frequent the break room to supply our daily meals (only on late nights when leaving is not an option and lunch seemed like forever ago). 

While I do not recommend eating anything out of the vending machine on a daily basis, I understand that late nights, working weekends, business trips, school trips, odd vacation adventures and cravings happen. So here’s some info to help you decide, when quarters in hand, which coordinates to push to get vegan-friendly food.

* * * 

OBJECTIVE
The purpose of the post is to present information in a way that helps you make healthier vegan-friendly decisions. I am not here to solicit companies. I am only here to present information that I have found or that has been presented to me.

* * * 

METHOD
If you want to know something the best approach is to go straight to the source. I took a picture of the vending machine on my floor and started researching the products. As I was trying to decipher which products had ingredients derived from animals and which were vegan-friendly, I hypothesized that the companies that manufacture the products would have the most finite and complete nutritional information.


STEP 1: IDENTIFY 
  1. Act II (ConAgra)
  2. Cape Cod Chips
  3. Frito-Lay
  4. General Mills
  5. The Hershey Company
  6. Kellogg’s
  7. Kraft Foods
  8. Mars
  9. Mr. Nature
  10. Nestle
  11. Snyder’s of Hanover

STEP 2: CONTACT THE COMPANIES
I distinguished which companies I needed to contact. Act II and Mr. Nature I did not contact due to the products represented in the vending machine. Products in the vending machine from these companies were identifiable as to whether they are or are not vegan. 

I did contact Cape Cod Chips, Frito-Lay, General Mills, The Hershey Company, Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, Mars, Nestle and Snyder’s of Hanover.

Although the companies are not shown in the photo above, I did reach out to The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo for further clarification on their vegan products. 

All of my communications were friendly and to the point. I requested a vegan food product list. My intention was to reach out to the parent company for an extensive list that included all of their brands. Corporate websites are fairly transparent regarding nutrition information, ingredients and contact information. If you get to a brand site and you’re looking for the parent company, it will most likely be listed at the bottom of the page by the disclaimer.


STEP 3: DATA ANALYSIS
Once I received the information I mined through the product lists that were very specific and determined which products needed further clarification. I had to check ingredient lists online for multiple products.


When I did contact a specific product division I was redirected to the parent company’s customer service department. For example, I reached out to ChexMix and an immediate correspondence was sent stating that my inquiry would be transferred to General Mills. This may be different for every company.

Detailed responses varied per company, as noted in the appendix at the bottom of this post. Kellogg presented a product list that included items from four of their brands: Gardenburger, Kashi, Morning Farms and Worthington. Cape Cod Chips and The Coca-Cola Company distinguished which brands and/or products contained animal-derivatives and went into further clarification on ingredients. Other companies, like Frito-Lay directed me to their website where the information is categorized by brand. A portion of the companies sent me a note back asking me to call their customer service line.

Please note: I did not call a customer service line for a second data-gathering phase for two reasons:
1. It was easier for me to look up the ingredients and determine whether or not the product in question was vegan.
2. My Vegan Corporate Life has the word “corporate” because I work full-time and thought #1 was more time efficient than calling a customer service line in between meetings.

* * *
FINDINGS


Out of the 38 products that are offered (minus mints and gum)

  • 25 are not vegan
  • 10 are vegan
  • 3 needed more information/questionable


CLICK ON product below to be directed to nutritional information or product website.
VEGAN
NOT-VEGAN
NOT-VEGAN
NOT-VEGAN
NOT-VEGAN
NOT-VEGAN
VEGAN
VEGAN
TBD: Reading through the description there are a lot of ingredients that could potentially be  animal derived. However Snyder's did not give me this product as something to question. Read the label. 
NOT-VEGAN
NOT-VEGAN
VEGAN
Listed on PETA's
NOT-VEGAN


TBD: Skittles lists ingredients on their website which includes gelatin. However, I've read multiple websites where people claim that the ingredients are vegan. Check the label. 



NOT-VEGAN


NOT-VEGAN

NOT-VEGAN

NOT-VEGAN
TBD: Package check! I bought a package one year ago and it contained whey ingredients. The website information says that it does  not contain whey. However, Kellogg's did not give me this product on their vegan list - so I'm listing it as questionable. Read the label.

    



NOT-VEGAN

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CONCLUSION
The conventional vending machine does offer limited options for vegans. The major re-occurring theme that I found to be most useful is to check every label, regardless if you think the product is 100% vegan. Companies change formulas and ingredients. If you're not sure about the product in question, contact the company for more information. 

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APPENDIX
1. Other Links and Resources:

PETA: Accidentally Vegan List

Hannaford Supermarket: Search products for ingredients

The Vegetarian Resource Group: Questions about food ingredients



2. Responses by Company
Cape Cod 

Kellogg Company

The Coca-Cola Company
Hershey

General Mills

Frito-Lay

Mars


Kraft Foods

Snyders of Hanover