“Well… there’s salad. You’ll eat salad, won’t you?”
How many times has that question, along with awkward questions about why you don’t eat meat, come up at parties? Do you diffuse the situation by apologizing, or maybe feel pulled into a heated debate? Do you invariably end up walking away feeling unsatisfied, in more places than just your belly?
You’re not alone.
It can be tricky to navigate a holiday season where well-meaning family offers salad as the sole plant-based option (or more commonly, something covered in cheese, because ‘that’s vegan, right?’), served with a side of interrogation about your protein intake and whether you miss turkey.
The great news is that, with a little preparation, you can arrive for holidays all set to eat well, speak well and love well; after all, at the heart of all of this good for you/good for the planet/good for the animals movement is love and kindness. Salad doesn’t have to be the only option. Here’s how to move seamlessly through the holidays, a vegan in omnivorous territory.
Bring Something With You
The easiest way to ensure you won’t miss out during mealtime is to bring plant-based fare with you. Depending on how far you have to travel, or what you plan to make, you can either prepare it in advance or tote the ingredients to assemble once you’ve arrived. Think hearty mains like Vegan Lentil Meatloaf or Stuffed Roasted Squash.
Ask To Help
Want to know what’s in the mashed potatoes, or whether any eggs ended up in the pumpkin pie? Offer to get your hands dirty in the kitchen and find out. Plus, this puts you in a great position to request that a portion of the veggies be cooked without butter, or that water be used instead of chicken stock in a sauce. Plus, this is a great way to share your plant-based cooking skills, and whoever is commanding the kitchen will probably appreciate it!
Be Confident With Your Choices
Know – for yourself – why you choose to eat the way you do. What motivates your decisions? Is it your health? The planet? Animal welfare? Religion? Whatever it is, it’s yours to own, and if you can speak confidently and kindly about your choices – rather than condescendingly or defensively – you’ll be more likely to engage a relative in a pleasant and educational conversation about your choices.
Have Some Info Handy
If you need some information to share with your family, check out our articles on vegan health and nutrition, as well as the environmental benefits of choosing to eat the turf, rather than the animals that stand on it. Have a few interesting factoids in your brain to share with family should the need arise. Remember, too, that science is more fun when shared enthusiastically. Consider it your personal challenge to make the digestive benefits of cruciferous veggies sound as exciting as the Thanksgiving Day football game!
Bring Your Perspective
Know that although the questions (and having to explain repeatedly that cheese is not vegan) can seem a little trying, your family has your best interest in mind. Take their questions as signs of curiosity and love, and at worst, know that the holidays take up only a finite part of the year. And in the end, is the amount of time you spend with the people who love you worth more than how much salad you’ll need to eat to stay satisfied? Probably.
Image Source: Vegan Feast Catering/Flickr