Soooo…you’ve decided to ditch the animal products and rock your plant-powered lifestyle. That’s amazing and incredible and I’m so frigging proud of you! And it’s been going great…but now the holiday season is here. Aaaak!
All those food-filled gatherings with friends and family and sometimes those oh-so-triggering relatives. You’ve been able to make it through your regular routine, work days and weekends, but how will you survive the never-ending questions, comments and concerns at your big dinner? Well, I’ve got you covered! Here’s my top tips to not only surviving, but also maybe even enjoying those festive get togethers.
7 Tips to Surviving the Holidays as a Vegan
Be Prepared - there will be questions. Sometimes lots of questions. And that’s completely OK. So before the big dinner, try and brush up on a few details. Like where do you get your protein, what about vitamin D, iron, calcium? You don’t have to be an expert, but a few educational answers in your back pocket are always helpful. But remember…you don’t have to know everything. If you get stuck, offer a few resources for them to check out. Perhaps your favorite website or a documentary that really helped you. And “I don’t know “ is a perfectly acceptable answer. Just talk about what works for you and why YOU made the switch. Because that’s what really matters.
Bring Food - nothing brings people together like delicous food. So bust out your cookbooks and make some awesome dishes to share! I always bring a side dish and dessert for everyone. And you don’t need to broadcast to everyone that it’s vegan. Sadly, a lot of people will immediately put up their defenses and not try your dish. Just put it in with all the others and when you get asked what’s in it or where you got the recipe…share your secrets. And enjoy their look of amazement when you tell them there’s not meat, eggs or dairy in your dish!
Be Peaceful, not preachy - holiday gatherings are not the time for activism or trying to convert your family. You are there to enjoy each others company and have some festive fun. So skip any slaughterhouse, heart attack and environment talks at the dinner table. Now, you may have that obnoxious relative who starts pushing the subject while everyone is eating their turkey and this is where you need to be strong, bite your tongue and politely let them know that you’re happy to discuss it AFTER dinner is done. Let people eat, be merry and enjoy the beautiful meal. And when it’s done, then you can get to talking.
Offer Support - most times when people learn that you have gone vegan they will immediately share some of their lifestyle changes. Things like: “We do meatless Monday” , “I‘ve given up red meat” or “I tried a veggie burger last week and it wasn’t terrible.” Embrace their small victories. You catch more flies with honey…I mean maple syrup, so by acknowledging and admiring their small shifts will only leaving them feeling better about their decisions. If you start telling people that what they are doing isn’t good enough, then they probably won’t keep trying. Lead by example, offer encouragement and remember, there’s no such thing as perfect. Every small change makes a difference.
Be a Duck - so inevitably you will encounter someone who just needs to get some jabs in about what you eat or don’t eat. Even if you say nothing, you may find yourself the target of their lame jokes or insults. This can be a tricky situation to navigate. But my best advice is not to get into it. Let it roll off your back…like a duck. “Hey that’s a good one!” or “Never heard that before, lol!” Remember, these people are looking for a reaction, so if you can remain calm and polite, they will back down. Worse case scenario, explain that you’re here to enjoy a lovely holiday gathering and you’re not up for a heated debate and if that doesn’t work, then excuse yourself from the conversation and find some less-jerky people to hang out with.
Kill them with Kindness - all family gatherings can be crazy. And add in a lifestyle that tends to cause controversy then you could be in for some extra special holiday drama. Just remember, be kind, be courteous, be polite and be forgiving. I know it’s easier said then done, but when you are nothing but kind, it’s really hard for people to be mean. Instead of telling your great Auntie how you won’t touch her dairy-filled casserole, why not acknowledge how much work she put into it?Let her know that everyone must have really liked it because it’s almost gone and ask her for the recipe to see if you could vegan-ize it for next year. She will still feel loved and appreciated even though you didn’t touch her signature dish.
Have Fun - isn’t that what the holidays are about? Embrace your friends and family, enjoy some drinks and don’t make a big deal about what people are or are not eating. Remember, everyone isn’t going to share your views, and that’s OK. You do you and let them do their own thing. Let them be curious, let them ask questions and lead by example. Just because you’re not screaming it from the roof tops, doesn’t mean that they aren’t paying attention. And if worse comes to worse…do what you always do at these events…grab a drink or 3 and try to avoid those wacky relatives!
So that’s my top 7 tips to surviving the holidays. Got any others you would like to share? Drop them in the comments below. Or feel free to share any awesomely crazy holiday stories too!