Unless you are fortunate enough to have an entirely vegetarian/vegan family, holiday gatherings pose particular challenges. For most of us, we are surrounded by family and friends who don’t share the same lifestyle, and furthermore, don’t understand it. You don’t have to be consumed with what others are thinking, saying or doing all because you choose not to eat meat. This year, you can be comfortable, have fun, enjoy their company and consume yourself in making those wonderful holiday memories.
Keep in mind, you can’t simply “think” happy thoughts and expect everything to magically work out. It’s going to take some planning ahead on your part. Over the years I’ve had my share of awkward moments. Here are a few helpful tips that I have learned from my experiences that can help you make your way through the holidays with peace and joy:
1. Expect questions and comments
I know, I know. It is much easier to say not to be annoyed at all of the questions and comments than it is to really not be annoyed. Just keep in mind that this is your norm, not theirs. Expect some curiosity and be prepared. While you don’t have to be an expert, it can be helpful to have answers ready for those likely questions.
2. Be polite
Being vegan does not mean that you have to stay armed with a vegan sermon ready to preach to the “sinful.” Show some kindness. Don’t be that vegan who looks down on others for eating meat. Who knows, you could be a big turnoff to someone who is considering transitioning. Instead, use this opportunity to educate others about the lifestyle and benefits of being vegan. Chances are, like me, you probably devoured (and enjoyed) some turkey and ham at some point.
3. Pack a Snack
Keep your favorite healthy snacks handy. Pack your purse, pockets and/or car with tasty treats you enjoy. After all, you are responsible for feeding yourself. You can’t always expect others to be considerate about something they don’t fully understand.
4. Bring a food everyone can enjoy
Bring a hearty dish that most people enjoy. It’s a great way to introduce others to delicious meatless foods. If all else fails, at least you can eat and be satisfied.
5. Offer to help cook
It is a great idea to offer a hand in the kitchen to help prepare the meal. This is not just a good gesture, but it also means you can help “veganize” some dishes, taking the stress off of the host while making sure there will be plenty of options for yourself.
6. Be supportive of any effort others make
Go out of your way to be encouraging and supportive about any effort people make to accommodate you. Any small step is a step in the right direction. Encouraging their efforts will likely produce more positive outcomes each time you get together. Pretty soon you could be surrounded by a bunch of vegan and vegetarian cousins.
7. Eat before you arrive
Enjoy a full course meal at home or at your favorite restaurant with your vegan friends before you arrive at the holiday gathering of non-vegan friends and family. Rather than frustrate a clueless host (and yourself) have a blast with your likeminded fam, and have some more fun when you arrive at aunt Sally’s with a full belly and a good attitude.
The holidays is the time of year to celebrate with family and friends. Food happens to be a big part of the celebration. Don’t let your choice to eat clean and live well cause you to miss out on creating precious memories with the ones you love. Be prepared to be merry.
Happy Holidays!! :)