By: Nai Harrison (@nalaa_nai)
The holiday season for the novice vegan can be a challenge if you enter unprepared. It’s going to feel different this time around; the dinner table will look more like a cemetery than a delicious feast. To help, I’ve compiled some tips on how to make your first vegan holiday season a success. As it is my second holiday season going meat/dairy free I’m walking in to ‘Turkey Day’ and beyond with the utmost confidence. It’s only right that I want my fellow brothers and sisters in veganism to be equally triumphant.
#1 Preparation, Bring a Dish.
This is custom for most families. We all have relatives that really know how to make something extra special, it might be your aunt that’s always assigned to make the mac and cheese or your grandma who always cooks a really juicy turkey, everyone plays a role. Create your own lane if you’re the first vegan in your family make a vegan dish. You will be contributing to the family dinner and this ensures that you have something tasty to eat. Chef up two dishes one that can be used as an entrée and one that can be a side. Your guaranteed something delicious for you to eat and you get to introduce your family to your lifestyle. If this is a work potluck event bring one dish that will impress your coworkers. You might recruit someone to your team in the process.
#2 Don’t Yuck their Yum
Education plays a significant part in adopting a plant-based diet. Maybe you saw “What the Health” and instantly became turned off from the meat industry, or you keep up with PETA's blog posts. Either way, you stay informed about the horrors that an animal has to go through to make it on a plate. Some of your family members, however, may not be as sympathetic or interested. Don’t overly lecture your family with unsolicited information. We can’t argue with people who are uninterested in facts, and you want to keep people informed, but telling your uncle that free-range chicken ain't so free range while he's taking a bite of a wing might not be such a good idea. Instead, talk about the great recipes that are plant-based that you might know. Talk about the positive things in veganism, and when they are engaged in conversation, you can bring up some of the ugly truth. So don't yuck their yum as tempting as it is. You're going to cringe, you're going to be annoyed, you might even feel angry depending on how passionate you are, but you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar. Save the pamphlets and speeches for a more appropriate time.
#3 Bring your game face
It's something about veganism that hits a nerve in some people. They get really defensive for no reason; they start calling you out on everything and the challenge you on all of your beliefs just because you don't want to eat meat and you rather have a healthy plant-based lifestyle. I have family members that battle me on a daily basis by telling me eating meat really has no harm towards the planet. They also say that because of GMO produce, it doesn't make sense to go plant-based, even though GMO can be avoided if you ask the right questions, and know what to look out for. Be ready with the facts and stay cool, understand that some people really arejust projecting there inability to do the same thing that you're doing. In most cases it's frustration with themselves.
#4 You can find vegan anywhere
Let's say you don't have time to bring a dish or maybe it wasn't an option for you. There are still vegan dishes that you can eat that are served at many different celebrations. It might not be the most filling and the most delicious vegan meals but you can eat it. Most classic sides, especially for Thanksgiving are vegan. There are salads, corn, cranberry sauce, yams (vegan marshmallows), potatoes, fruits, vegetables, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie and of course the alcohol! So try not to think about how limited you are and do it with you can. Jazz up your plate make a colorful salad and dig in.
#5 Have fun
The holiday season is really about coming together with family, friends, co-workers, associates, partners, lovers and just enjoying their company. We come for the food but that doesn’t have to be a focus. You have opportunities to have fun while it’s cold it could be Thanksgiving dinner, Friendsgiving, work parties, ugly sweater parties, Christmas parties, New Year’s Eve! The holiday times are really about turning up especially in your adult life so don’t be a Debbie Downer upset about your lack of food options and don’t avoid places just because it may not necessarily be 100% vegan friendly, just have fun!
Follow Nai: @nalaa_nai