A vegetarian firefighter claims he's been harassed, given dangerous assignments, and reassigned because of his refusal to eat meat when he was stationed at Ladder 146 in Greenpoint. The alleged abuse got so bad that Anthony Harper, an eight-year veteran, has taken his story to the media. In an interview with the Post, Harper, 42, says he was ostracized—and worse—after he decided to give up meat and refused to pay 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 tells the tabloid. He claims that because of his diet, he was given the most dangerous assignments for punishment when the unit was dispatched. And on one occasion, he was head-butted by a fellow firefighter in a dispute over a roster. After he complained, he says he was transferred FDNY HQ in downtown Brooklyn.
Now Harper worries he'll be passed over for a promotion because of his refusal to put the carcasses of slaughtered farm animals into his body. But an FDNY spokesman calls the allegations "nonsense" and tells the Post, "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." Though it's not hard to imagine a vegetarian firefighter getting ribbed (sorry) for his lifestyle; as Joseph T. Bonanno Jr., a former New York City firefighter and the author of "The Firehouse Grilling Cookbook," once told the Times, firefighters "are dinosaurs, they're big meat eaters."