How to have a vegan Christmas when you’re surrounded by non-vegans? While you’ve ditched all things dairy, when you’re plant-based surrounded by non-vegans, chances are you may not have such a merry time.
Our friends at abillionveg have put together their top tips so that you can enjoy your holiday with ease and grace. (If you’re still on the fence about going vegan, here’s the nudge you’ve been looking for).
1. Talk it out
The first thing is doing the obvious, make sure your friends and family know that you’re a vegan. Try meeting your friends and family beforehand, maybe over coffees or a meal. That way, you’ve addressed all their concerns, and everyone will know what to expect on Christmas eve. If meeting everyone isn’t an option, try calling them and weaving veganism in the conversation.
2. Plan ahead
The key to any successful gathering is to plan ahead, even more so when it’s Christmas. Start with who’s hosting the dinner, are there any other plans or activities, who’re invited, etc. Doing this will help you prepare for the day, and you can avoid any last-minute hassles.
3. Gift ideas
Are you exchanging gifts? There’s a chance that you may receive non-vegan gifts. In such a case, you may choose to donate the gift or refuse to accept it by politely citing your reason. You can even consider creating a list of vegan-friendly gifts that you’d like to receive by sharing a wish-list on your preferred online platform, or create a collection on abillionveg and send it to your friends and family. Make sure to mention that you’re doing this to ensure that the gifts that you receive are in line with your ethics; your loved ones will appreciate the effort.
4. Experiment with flavours
Unfortunately, many traditional Christmas recipes are non-vegan. However, you can look for different ingredients and start experimenting with the tastes and recipes well before Christmas. Many brands like Quorn, Beyond Meat, and Gardein offer plant-based meat substitutes if you feel like cooking at home. If cooking from scratch isn’t your thing, try delicious ready-to-eat frozen meal options, so you get to experience a “traditional” Christmas feast the vegan way.
5. Host your own
You can consider hosting your own vegan Christmas dinner. That way, you get to decide on the menu and show your loved ones just how delicious vegan food can be. Look for recipes and be creative. Make your own vegan pigs-in-blanket or peanut butter pudding and show everyone that vegan food can be just as delicious.
6. Go the BYO way
If hosting isn’t possible, and you’re going to a non-vegan loved one’s place, be considerate. Offer to bring your own meals. That way, your host won’t have to change their plans and make new dishes, and you’re sure the food you’re eating is vegan. Try bringing more food, so everyone on the table can taste the food.
7. Eat before you leave
If bringing your own food isn’t an option, have a nice meal at home before heading out. That way, you won’t be hangry when everyone else is tucking in, and you can enjoy great conversations while nibbling on the sides.
8. Beware of innocent-looking non-vegan dishes
Many traditional sides like mashed potatoes, gravy, bread sauce, or beans look vegan but often contain non-vegan ingredients. Some people also like cooking their food with animal fat, so try to know how your food will be cooked. Don’t be afraid to ask for specifics, or if you feel it’s awkward, ask for the recipe, then you’ll know what’s in it.
9. Anticipate temptations
There will be food, food that was once your favourite. If you anticipate temptation to hit you, be prepared. Offer to bring vegan substitutes of those dishes, keep some snacks and water ready, so you’re not so hungry, engage someone in a conversation, or if nothing works, try going into another room for a few minutes.
10. Avoid confrontation
It’s important to remember that you can love people and still disagree with them. This festive season, try to keep the disagreements at bay. Take the high road when you hear comments about “those fancy millennial trends” or your “protein deficiency.” Talking about your beliefs is important, but leave those conversations for another day.
11. Anticipate questions
If this is your first vegan Christmas, people will ask questions. Mostly on the lines of why did you choose to make the shift and just how you’re surviving on only vegetables. Know that these questions come from a feeling of concern and love. Best to prepare ahead and have some answers ready.
12. Focus on people
You can take the power of conversation in your hand and focus on the people at the table rather than your food. Ask them what’s going on in their lives and listen. People love it when you’re interested in them, and you avoid all of those thorny topics.
Veganism has the power to change lives– and we’re not talking just around the animals. Now that you’ve committed to the lifestyle, all you need to do is extend some kindness to yourself and your loved ones.
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