Hello everyone! This is my favorite time of year. The air is getting colder. the leaves are getting crunchier. And (best of all) the food is getting heartier. As we head into the holidays, I am faced with the always uncomfortable reality of being the only vegan at the table. I don’t want to bring a whole slew of my own food to each holiday event. But I also don’t want to starve when everyone else is unbottoning their pants and falling into turkey comas.
I need to strike a balance between contributing my own foods and allowing the host to cook what she wants to make. Over the years, I have learned how to navigate the holidays as a vegan, and I’d love to share that process with you.
My 3-Step process For Graciously Remaining Vegan During The Holidays
Tell Your Host In Advance
It is very tempting to just show up and figure out what you can eat when you arrive. This method will allow you to avoid an awkward phone call, but it will make things ten times worse when your host realizes you’ve eaten nothing and you’re forced to either make them think you hate their food, or leave them embarrassed for having nothing for you. As soon as you RSVP to a holiday event, give the host a call. Tell them thank you for the invitation and that you are so excited to come. Then, politely tell them that you are eating a plant-based diet (no need to quality with your reasons) and you wanted them to be prepared. They might have some follow up questions, and that’s okay.
Ask To Contribute
Once you have told your host that you are abstaining from meats and dairy products, ask if you can bring a dish to add to the table. They will most likely be happy to let you contribute. Pro Tip: Bring a hearty dish. The odds are high that they will already have a salad or vegetable dish to eat (even if you had said nothing). Bring a vegetarian loaf, meatballs, Tofurkey, or other hearty side. Even if you eat just that, you won’t go hungry.
If this is your first holiday season as a vegan or vegetarian, be prepared for a lot of questions. Hopefully, your family will accept your answers and move along. If not, recognize that their feelings about your diet are entirely their own and have nothing to do with you. If they are outwardly cruel about your choices, you can make a mental note to RSVP “No” in the future. Nobody else should be able to dictate your health or happiness just because it makes them uncomfortable.
If All Else Fails (Bonus Step)
This is not part of the process, but it’s still important to note. In rare cases, your family or friends may be unwilling to make you special foods. Even if they do, it’s possible that they will accidentally make a dish that doesn’t actually match your diet. If you find yourself in this position, eat what you can and be polite. Then, reward yourself with a big plate of vegan mac and cheese at the end of the night.
However you choose to eat this holiday season, remember that the most important thing is to spend the time with the people you love.