It’s official, Vegan in Wyoming is now my full time job! December 31st was my last day working at the non-vegan restaurant I have worked at on and off for the last four years. This week has been full of excitement! Some of that comes from the relief from being done working there, but most of it comes from my readiness to put all of my energy and time into something I am incredibly passionate about.
Although the job I just left wasn’t vegan friendly, I really enjoyed working there, until I realized that being there made me extremely uncomfortable. I hadn’t been enjoying work for over a year and a half, but I didn’t know what else I would do. I didn’t like the idea of going anywhere else, because I wasn’t passionate about cooking anywhere. I also knew I didn’t want to wait tables or be a hostess anymore. Although, the restaurant I was at goes against everything that I believe in, in the food that they serve, there was one thing that kept me there. Unlike most restaurants, the owner really cared about each employee and made contact with each person at some point throughout the shift. I have never worked at any other restaurant like it before. Between that and the fact that most employees work there for years on end, it really felt like a family. Those things helped me grow into the person that I am today. When I started there, I lacked self confidence and had zero people skills. Most of that came from being young, immature, and uncertain of my place in this world. After working there for a while, and taking a break to reflect on my life, I came back eager to learn and grow. I started helping with prep in the kitchen and really enjoyed that. I liked it a lot better than waiting tables and being a hostess.
After a while, I couldn’t handle prepping anymore. I had a really difficult time dealing with meat and eggs. Every time I would be stuck doing a task that wasn’t vegan, I felt guilty and disgusted. I went back to only hosting and waiting tables for about a year, but the same feelings quickly began to surface. I felt disgusted with what I was giving other people. I felt guilty because I was trying to live a compassionate lifestyle and I was literally handing people dead animals on a plate. I felt like a hypocrite because I was trying to promote my vegan business, while working for a place that promoted meat. All of those things had been building up over the last year, and there were many days that I wondered how I continued working there. It finally got to the point where I had to talk to my manager and went down to two days a week. I just couldn’t stand being there any more than that. I constantly felt like I was on auto pilot. I would go there, do the exact same job that I had been doing for four years, and be grateful when I got sent home. I didn’t feel like myself.
Luckily by this point, I had already started Vegan in Wyoming! I finally felt like there was a way out. I put in my notice and agreed to finish the year out, to help get through the busy holiday season. Even though this job wasn’t vegan friendly and I was constantly filled with conflict, I learned a lot. I learned how a business should be run. I learned that with hard work, anything can be successful. I learned that working with people who care and treat each other like family makes a world of difference. I learned how to carry myself professionally. I learned valuable people skills. Most of all, I learned exactly how I want my business to look like if it ever gets big enough. I will forever be grateful for the owner and managers at that restaurant. They took the time to make me feel like I was a valuable part of their business, even when I didn’t think I was.
Leaving was bittersweet. I was sad to leave my first job ever, but beyond excited to be doing my own thing. Now that the emotional rollercoaster of the last few months is over, I can truly say that I am ready to face this challenge head on!