Firefighter: I Was Snubbed for Being Vegetarian
Anthony Harper says colleagues ostracized him
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2012 4:34 PM CST
FDNY firefighters glare up at a damaged crane as it hangs over 57th Street after being torn from it's base by high winds, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in New York.   (AP)

(Newser) – Talk about a meaty problem: A New York firefighter says colleagues have snubbed him and even endangered his life because he's vegetarian, the New York Post reports. Anthony Harper, 42, says it began when he changed his diet two years ago and stopped paying his share of communal meals at the firehouse—which all had chicken or red meat. "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," he says.

Harper says his colleagues harassed him, threatened him with violence, and gave him risky assignments on rooftops of burning buildings. One even head-butted him during a dispute at their Brooklyn firehouse. Ironically, he says, his diet has only made him a better firefighter, helping him lose 35 pounds and get in good physical shape. But he's been relegated to a desk job, working at a computer and printing out forms. The FDNY calls Harper's allegations "nonsense," but he'll find out soon enough—when the department holds an expected hearing on his case and considers his pending promotion to lieutenant.