Wednesday, May 20, 2020

I Should Have Quit in November


"If you are silent about your pain, they'll kill you and say you enjoyed it."— Zora Neale Hurston

I remember the excitement in late October, the day the Vegan Dayton group announced a new all-vegan restaurant coming into town. It would occupy the space Loving Hut had years ago in the Dayton Mall. Of course, I had to apply for a job— always wanted to work at a vegan restaurant. 

This happiness was short lived, ultimately becoming a huge, colossal mistake. 

On opening week, I pitched an article to Veg News about the restaurant. On the very first day, I found out the batter had been mixed with a milk additive flour. Boss Lady* stopped immediately, but she seemed more pissed about my discovery than the misleading product. It was the start of many discrepancies. When the news editor emailed me back, I did not want to write the piece and last minute thought that I could. She wrote the article instead. 

For weeks, the restaurant appeared to be running smoother, more authentic vegan until seeing the Sweet Baby Back Thai Chili Sauce which contained milk and chicken fat. Although I had not eaten the sauce, many vegans had and this did not sit well in my stomach, let alone my heart and spirit. Boss Lady screamed, “why would you read the ingredients?” and “get back to the front.” Later, she would call and say, “I’m proud of you for always pointing out what is not vegan. I’m still learning.” Yet her expressions and body language conveyed only a fury and annoyance that would continue growing, making work days harder, strained. 

I no longer had a desire to pitch any other stories about the restaurant for vegan publications. Boss Lady started gaslighting, becoming agitated if I did not want to sample her food, proclaiming everything one-hundred-percent vegan with a sort of wild exaggeration that was frightening and intimidating. The uncomfortable situation ate at my moral compass— weighing the need to remain employed and withstand Boss Lady’s up/down attitudes versus the corrupt knowledge that the food was a complete facade. 

Another discovery led to Boss Lady blaming her partner solely for purchasing another wrong flour. Niles,* my co-worker, confessed that he told her for weeks about the milk batter— a batter that I and others had eaten. When I confronted Boss Lady over the phone at the restaurant, she accused Niles of lying. She called him minutes later. I stood in the doorframe, listening to her berate Niles, her loud voice booming, “why did you tell Janyce about the batter? You know how she gets!” Right then and there, I should have quit, learning that she was purposely poisoning us all. Still, I believed her, believed that she wanted to better herself for the community at hand even as Niles claimed that Boss Lady screamed “I can never have nothing!” every time I found something non-vegan. 

The pandemic had the restaurant closed for two months. That was two months of peace and clarity, unquestioned vegan food. In addition to not reading product ingredients, Boss Lady had been belittling us, making us feel unworthy, ugly. She had cussed us out, never apologized for any of her wrongs, talked about others like a bully in high school. There were days I returned home burdened by the heaviness of worthlessness and stupidity. When we all came back to work last weekend, it resumed— the non-vegan ingredients and Boss Lady pretending that she does not use them. 

After I quit on Sunday morning, Niles revealed to me that Boss Lady had been hiding things before my shifts, knowing that I read ingredients. Apparently she was, “oh we can’t have Janyce seeing this. Oh this writing is too small. She can’t see that” or “don’t let anyone know we use Honey Hot! Vegans don’t eat honey.” I felt absolutely floored and disgusted. Thus, I had finally made the right decision, months too late. Vegans are not important to her, especially the overall consciousness of what we stand for. It makes me sick that the foods manifesting inside of my own body and that of others contained the most unwanted. My eight years of veganism were maliciously harmed and compromised by Boss Lady. She knew all about it. 

When all is said and done, it will take a while to forgive myself for the harm caused to the many customers, to those who traveled far and wide for foods that they believed were cruelty free. In the end, I became as corrupt as Boss Lady and must reevaluate my whole purpose in veganism. May a guiding light aide me in another journey where a paycheck does not come above a chosen sentient lifestyle. 

32 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Thank you for telling us the truth, Janyce.

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  3. Don't give up, we all need you!

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  4. That is absolutely disgusting. She should know better. Why would she even open and promote something that she's not? To be edgy? To be "different"? To capitalize on a "trend"? She's a horrible human. Don't beat yourself up about it. You thought that through educating her that eventually she would learn and grown, plus you're going into work like the rest of us because you have to make a living. It sucks that instead of doing the right thing she opted to be sneaky. She doesn't deserve a business. She doesn't deserve to have an employee like you that overall you were looking out for her as well as your customers. Screw her. Good for you. And I hope she gets reported to the BBB.

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, BFF. I appreciate your kind, caring support through this tough time! It’s definitely a marketing ploy to get people to spend money, but it’s a very unethical situation for both the customers and the employees. I thought she truly cared, had some compassion. I allowed myself to be deceived into believing in something that was just not true and I will always be disappointed about it. Still, I hope she opens up her eyes and sees that she is doing a dishonorable disservice to the vegan community. Maybe she will become better. Just maybe.

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  5. thank you for your courage in standing up for yourself and others. more power to you for using your voice. be as forgiving and caring of yourself as you are to others right now. Namaste

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I’m doing my best to alert everyone. It’s better late than never. Namaste to you and yours.

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  6. What a horrible experience! Aside from vegans, those who have allergies to things they are claiming aren't in their food could be seriously harmed. This establishment is setting itself up for a lawsuit. I'm so sorry you went through this. I know how awful it is to choose between ethics and a paycheck. I hope you find something better soon.

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    1. Thank you for understanding. It was a hard position to be in and hopefully that doesn’t happen again in the future. I’m just thinking about the vegans still visiting, those kept in the dark about the ingredients used. I worry especially for the allergens as well and pray for only the best outcome in this situation— that she reevaluates this restaurant in an honest, thoughtful light.

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    2. We appreciate the warning and being part of the Dayton vegan community the word is getting passed around very quickly and I'm not sure if many vegans will be visiting in the foreseeable future.

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    3. Thank you. I can definitely understand that and fully support any decisions made by those in the Dayton community pained by this deception.

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  7. Thank you for telling us! I am so angry! Not at you, but for not following my gut when I felt there was something off about the place. At least you were trying to make things right... I have been an ethical vegan for about 14 years, and the thought that I gave her my money makes me sick... And I am lactose intolerant, so she could have made me physically ill!

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    1. I am so very sorry. I should have trusted my gut too.

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  8. I'm glad you were able to get out of there; it sounds like it was such a disappointing and discouraging experience. Sending you love and hoping that something better comes your way soon! <3

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    1. Thank you, Julie! Thank you. You were there for my excitement and now my sadness. I appreciate that so much. *hugs*

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  9. SMH...the things people do for that "ALL MIGHTY DOLLAR". Sorry you carried such a heavy burden that shouldn't have been yours to carry.

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    1. Thank you. Money is such a strong power and under its influence some are driven to do anything for it. I have definitely learned a lot through this experience.

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  10. Janyce, there are still at least 3 vegan food businesses, run by ethical vegans. We could use your support and from a personal view, if I ever get in a position to hire employees....I want you!

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    1. Thank you! Thank you so much. I appreciate your uplifting comments. I would be more than willing to spread any word about the ethical vegan businesses here in Dayton and help in any other way possible. This city is the foundation of where I started both vegetarianism and veganism and I can only continue growing from here.

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  11. Thank you for your honesty. This definitely needs to be reported to the BBB. My daughter is vegan and it breaks my heart thinking that someone would purposely put something into her body that she did not know about. She gets so excited when she sees & gets to eat somewhere that’s fully vegan. and it’s horrible thinking that she would be deceived in this way. It’s so unnecessary.

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    1. I am sorry for the troubles this has caused you and your daughter. I know all about the excitement of a fully vegan restaurant.

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  12. Thank you for sharing, I'm so sorry you went through this! How awful.

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate your support.

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  13. They temporarily opened during the quarantine for curbside pickup and I decided to order from there. When I ordered over the phone I asked if they had the rolls available. The woman on the other line then asked "are you vegan"? and I said yes I'm vegan, I'm ordering from a vegan restaurant lol. And she said "oh we have something but it isn't vegan. This person admitted to having non vegan products in their restaurant. Absolutely nothing should be offered that isn't vegan. Honestly, I wholeheartedly believe your story. I eat from plenty of vegan food vendors and this was the only one to make me sick every time I ate it.

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    1. Thank you for your support and sharing your story, Brittany! I appreciate it. I did not work during the curbside pickup, but I have an idea of whom addressed you over the phone.

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  14. My son worked at this eatery. I told him daily when I dropped him off to work not to eat the food. Boss lady of course had major issues with him eating at other businesses in the Dayton Mall. She was constantly complaining of him stealing her freshly mad juices, that is basically County Time Lemonade and other additives and such. That he had purchased with proof. However, once I stopped watching her children. My son was no longer needed. I applaud her efforts in finding a trend and capitalizing on it. However, at the cost of patrons health is unacceptable.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing. I am sorry for what has happened. I feel so guilty over eating this immensely and giving this food to my family, my friends, the vegan/nonvegan community of Dayton. I did not like the drinks either for that very reason. I was initially very proud of this place, but that fell over during the course of time.

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  15. My jaw is on my keyboard, Janyce. I am so sorry you had this horrible experience (and FWIW, I don't think you should spend another second blaming yourself for not quitting sooner). Sending you much love. xoxox

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