A Day in the Life of a Vegan Grocery Cashier

 I Am Not a Nugget

C’mon, admit it. We all tend to let our thoughts race away—uproariously, shamelessly, slanderously away—with clichéd untruths about anyone who’s different from us, be they vegans, vegetariansgluten abstainers, paleo pushers, what have you. We’re all, to some degree or another, guilty of stereotyping. Doesn’t matter whether you’re the chest-thumping sort or the morally uptight, uh, upright sort. Why exactly do we decry, denounce, and maybe even fear those who are different? And how do we no longer do this? Well, they say awareness is the first step, which is exactly why we’re sharing this snarky and admittedly stereotype-exacerbating excerpt from the outspoken folks at McSweeney’s. See, this is the perfect parody of us all. (Yes, we mean you. And we mean us, too.) So please, no nasty comments denouncing us for vilifying vegans. We’re just holding up a mirror to ourselves—and offering you a chance, if you choose, to do the same.—Renee Schettler Rossi

6:30 a.m. Awake to a bright and morally untroubling day. Waft into kitchen to prepare a healthy, animal-free breakfast. See that girlfriend (Jennifer) has cooked cream-of-tomato soup in my saucepan and has left it in sink. Don’t want to start fight. Instead, blend spirulina breakfast shake in blender for entirety of time in shower.

7:30 a.m. Put PETA “I AM NOT A NUGGET” T-shirt on under work shirt. I know I’ve made a small difference.

8:15 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. After leaving questionably sarcastic note for Jennifer, drive to work. Tailgate Durango with “CARNIVORE” sticker. Feel he noticed: small victory. Arrive at work. Clock in. Intentionally snub butchers’ department; give them the finger with hands in pockets.

9:20 a.m. Fellow cashier (Brandi) asks for price on eggs. “The price is too high,” I say. “Too high.” She is so moved by my answer, she does not consult me for price checks for rest of day.

10:25 a.m. Get poultry drippings on shirt from raw chicken at checkout. Consider changing into extra work shirt, but decide not to. Fluids will be Pink Badge of Sacrifice. Brandi tells me I have chicken blood on my shirt. “But not on my hands,” I say.

11:00 a.m. Overcharge woman buying Jell-O.

11:15 a.m. Lunch break. Eat bagel with peanut butter sprinkled with texturized vegetable protein. Brandi sits nearby, eating turkey sandwich. Stomach turns. She asks if she should eat elsewhere. I say, “No, I just won’t breathe through my nose.” After meal, go to loading dock and smoke cigarette to clear air of turkey smell.

11:45 a.m. Return from lunch break. Remove Burt’s Bees products from display next to register. Manager complains. Tell her I’m sorry, that from now on I will be more accepting of the exploitation of bees. She asks me to work every Saturday for the month. I accept, interested to see how many pork products are bought on Sabbath. Will make great entry in journal.

12:50 p.m. Customer comments on GO VEG! sticker, which is on my water bottle under counter. I give short discourse on Marxist view of man-vs.-animal struggle, especially as it pertains to bovine lactation exploitation. I “accidentally” spill his container of feta on floor. He informs me he will no longer shop here. I congratulate his grass-roots activism against the grocery industry.

1:30 p.m. Ask customer if she wants paper or plastic. Add, “Or a coronary,” as I cough into hand. Feel energized about standing up for beliefs.

2:55 p.m. Brandi asks if I am mad about the sandwich incident. I say no, but know she knows I’m mad. Continue covert glaring toward her register.

3:10 p.m. Smoke break. Co-worker (Dave) says, “I’m surprised you do that.” “Well, being vegan isn’t for everyone,” I counter. Note he must be jealous of my self-control.

4:00 p.m. Receive call from Jennifer. Asks if I can pick up birth-control prescription. I begin to mention the evils of hormone harvesting from horses, but refrain. Decide to “forget” to go to pharmacy.

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4:30 p.m. Clock out. Grab wheat-grass smoothie for drive home. Accidentally let shopping carts roll into butcher’s car. Oops.

4:45 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Confrontation with Jennifer over birth control. She says pills are “synthetic” hormones. I say the only thing synthetic are my shoes—no leather here! I refuse to have intercourse until a non-latex-based, non-hormonal birth-control method is established. Jennifer rummages through vegetable crisper, retires to bedroom. I believe she is beginning to see the light.

7:45 p.m. Leaf through PETA catalog (new hemp shoes!), eat tofu stir-fry. Decide not to brush teeth after eating as I usually do to accommodate Jennifer’s soy sensitivity. Give her sloppy kiss when she emerges from bedroom. Swear that resulting hives are from a built-up Midwestern resistance to healthful, non-meat alternatives. She begins to cry. Finally, a breakthrough.

10:20 p.m. Read Vegan Delights cookbook in bed, fall asleep on goose-down pillows Jennifer put on bed. Could go to closet and get fiber-fill one, but don’t. Will blame Jennifer forever if ideological tenets are damaged by night of fluffy respite. Pledge to record this in journal tomorrow.

Got a food stereotype that annoys the bejeebers out of you? Get it off your chest and let us know in a comment below.—Editors of Leite’s Culinaria 

Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Meredith Gray

About Meredith Gray

Meredith K. Gray is an American writer and educator currently living in Wellington, New Zealand. Her fiction can be found in journals such as Image, The Normal School and NanoFiction, and she's a contributing writer at Reductress, a satirical women's magazine. Her website is www.meredithkgray.com.

  1. ruthie says:

    Yes! Too funny. Having spent a few gothy years in my youth, I am all too familiar with genus veganii passivaggressivus. ;) And the nutrition wars continue!

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