A firefighter in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY says that he was not only shunned, but put in harm’s way because he turned vegetarian. I found his story on this morning’s The Gothamist and I found it really disturbing.
Anthony Harper is 42 years old and has been a firefighter for eight years.
He says the problems started when he decided to become a vegetarian and stopped chipping in for the communal meals at the firehouse.
It’s a culture where you eat what everybody else eats, and if it’s not what you are accustomed to — and you want to slim down and lose weight and won’t eat it — well, it leads to problems,” Harper told the NY Post.
Harper says that he was not only ostracized but was even given the most dangerous assignments when his fire company went out on a call.
He says the situation become unworkable when another firefighter head-butted him during an argument about the fire company’s roster. When he complained, he was transferred.
Harper says that he’s now worried that he will be passed over for promotion or otherwise be punished because he doesn’t eat meat. A spokeperson for the fire department denies that Harper has been treated differently because of his diet.
Firehouses across the city have individuals who are vegetarians or who have special diets — i.e., food allergies, etc. — and they are accommodated all the time.”
I don’t know if Harper is on the level or if he’s using vegetarianism as a scapegoat to cover poor performance, an attitude problem or an inability to get along with his fellow firemen. Either way, it does neither the vegetarian lifestyle or the fire department any good.
I truly hate to think that people have found yet another way to discriminate.