Yep, it's true. Just found out on Friday that a new employee in our retirement home is vegan. Unfortunately we'll rarely work together as our shifts are different, but just knowing that I'm no longer the only vegan at work is sweet to say the least. Now I have no idea why this person is vegan (health, environment, ethics), how long she's been vegan, her theoretical inclinations (she could be a draconian Francione-inspired absolutist abolitionist* for all I know, snort), or even if she's a person I'd like. That's to say, we wouldn't necessarily get along just because we're both vegan.
But no matter. The fact that there will now be two of us may just double the impact. Because while I haven't "converted" anyone at work over the past five years, I HAVE normalized veganism for them. That is, they now know someone who's vegan (even if they don't work in my department), have asked questions about being vegan (including the perennially popular But where do you get your protein?), and are aware of at least one person bucking the status quo when it comes to animal consumption, and piping up whenever she hears a self-serving Mmm... bacon.
But doesn't everyone know a vegan by now? Perhaps, and in a bigger city this wouldn't even warrant a post. However, I live in a small town (population under 25,000) with strong rural roots and not much history of questioning animal exploitation. And the home where I work is a Christian one (a bit of a conflict of interest for me as I don't identify as Christian), where hierarchy and human supremacy have an even stronger ideological foothold than in the secular world. So I see it as even more significant that in this small town and this small workplace there are now two of us living and modeling a do as little harm to other animals as you can ethic. Can't wait to welcome her, and to see what unfolds! :)
p.s. in the wake of the Paris attacks, here's a thoughtful and insightful look by Andrew Kirschner at how all lives don't matter
* for the record, and if labels matter, I consider myself a pragmatic abolitionist