Butterball turkeys, buttery mashed potatoes, juicy roasts, rich gravies, and creamy pies are what outdated traditions have told us we need to be ingesting during the holiday season. Holidays imply indulgence, excess calories, and lots of animal products. But you no longer need to sit at the table like a king at the Renaissance fair masticating on a giant turkey leg. You can make a meal without meat, dairy, and eggs and enjoy a traditional meal that’s still vegan at home for the holidays. Who’s to say that your table can’t be dressed with greens, salads, seasonal squash, citrus fruits, vegan meat alternatives, and dairy-free cheesecake?
Whether you have decided to become a vegan in the past few weeks or three years ago, addressing your vegan diet during the holiday season can be a point of tension for your family. Here are tips as to how to stand your ground about your vegan diet while also respecting your family’s traditions and plans.
How to Talk to Your Family About Veganism
Depending on how you were raised, the idea of veganism can be anything from what can feel like a massive insult to your local food culture to a minor change to the dinner table. If your local food culture and economy depends on milk, cheese, and meat products, abstaining from these foods can make you seem like an outsider. So how do you go about requesting the change for your diet without angering your family and friends?
Be prepared to answer any questions about veganism but stand your ground and request that these answers come from genuine interest and curiosity instead of condescension. Come prepared with truthful and kind answers and don’t be afraid to let them know if their questions or ideas aren’t based off facts but instead cultural ideals.
If you come prepared to talk about veganism, or end up spiraling into one, we recommend stepping away from the table or delaying the conversation until a meal is over. Removing the food from the eyeline may help them see your side as you’ve literally removed the reminders of their choices out from under their nose. Diet is a personal topic and as soon as you say something along the lines of “I challenge everything you know to be right and healthy,” you’re bound to ruffle some feathers. Challenge with kindness. If you’re addressing someone about their lifestyle in an unkind and abrasive manner, it won’t help your argument. Instead, it will encourage them to stay in their ways and back away from any interest in veganism. Even if you feel that the idea of a non-vegan is unkind, take the high road as any counterculture might come across as propaganda.
How to Encourage Your Family to Host a Vegan-Friendly Gathering
If you already cook for others with different dietary requirements, you know meal time can be a hassle. During the holiday season, you have to integrate older relatives who are adamant about maintaining traditional family recipes, as well as younger generations who are requesting a gluten-free and/or plant-based diet. It can be a lot to prepare. An easy way to make sure that you have vegan options is to offer up your services to prepare your vegan options, or prepare the meal as a whole. If they insist on preparing the majority of the meal except your vegan options, you can simply prepare a few dishes like a veggie side, turkey or roast replacement, and vegan dessert. If you are responsible for the meal as a whole, there are plenty of pre-made alternatives and recipes available to make the transition to a vegan holiday meal seamless.
How to Encourage Vegan Options at a Potluck
If your friends and family are not already aware of your vegan diet, make it known to them as soon as you’re aware that they are attending or organizing the potluck. Do not spring your vegan diet on them at the last minute as that is disrespectful to the time and energy they’ve already put into the event. The more notice you give to prepare or buy a vegan dish, the easier of a time it will be to make arrangements for you. If you find that others refuse to bring a vegan dish, make sure to bring extra vegan options for you so you will have plenty to eat and be able to show them how easy it can be to veganize a holiday meal. If you have plans to stay up all night or go shopping after the meal, slip in the fact that meat and dairy will likely tire them out and make them want to fall asleep early. If they want long-lasting energy, a plant-based diet will give them fuel to last all night!
With a growing vegan population around the world and vegan alternatives more available than ever, it’s simple to prepare a meal that’s vegan at home for the holidays. Just because traditional holiday meals have had turkeys and roasts as the centerpiece in the past, doesn’t mean we can’t challenge those traditions with kinder meal options for our loved ones in the present.