Keeping the peas this holiday season!
When we first became vegan, we were eager to share our new found knowledge with everyone…but we got some mixed results. Of course this will depend on your particular family and friends. Some families will be very supportive and want to listen to everything that you have to say. Some will genuinely not understand, some will tease you, and others may be worried that you’ll die from some nutrient deficiency.
It will get easier with time, but if you are just starting out and this is your first holiday as a vegan, or just need some help getting through this season, we have 10 tips that will hopefully help make things a bit more manageable and let you enjoy your holidays with your friends and family.
Focus on what you have in common rather than your differences.
Now that you have experienced the health benefits and have become aware of the suffering involved in getting all those animal products on the dinner table, it’s perfectly understandable that it’s difficult to keep your mouth shut. But try to remember, these are people you love, so try to focus on why you are there. Holidays are often a time when we get to visit friends and family that we may not get to see very often, so keep reminding yourself of all the positive reasons you are at the table with these people.
Holiday dinner is not the time for vegan activism
There is a time and a place for everything, and the time to bring up animal suffering is not when your friends and family are digging in to dinner. Nobody wants to be made to feel like they are the bad guy, and if you try to say something at the table, people will most likely either shut down or you will get into an argument with them. What you really want is to plant a seed, and antagonizing or putting people on the defensive will backfire on you.
Talk about the positives.
If people keep pressuring you and you just can’t avoid the topic, rather than telling them how unhealthy they are, and how the animals are suffering and how we are destroying the planet, talk about all the positive changes that you’ve experienced. People are much more likely to be inspired by what you are doing if they see all the good that has come out of your new lifestyle.
Most people are clueless.
The sad truth is that most people don’t even understand veganism. We’ve heard statements like:
“But surely you still eat fish?”
“How about some chicken?”
“Have some pie, there’s no meat in there.”
“Butter is ok, right?”….
You get the idea. People genuinely don’t understand. I am ashamed to admit that I was vegetarian for 12 years thinking that at least no animal is dying for me. Realize that your family most likely just don’t know. Be graceful at dinner and then find an appropriate time to explain why you made this shift.
Be the light!
Inspire by example. Maybe it will take a bit longer than one dinner for people to catch on, but if every time you get together, they notice that you are slimmer, your skin is glowing, you don’t have to take handfuls of medications anymore…whatever the case may be, people will want to know what you are doing to make these changes happen. And if they are interested, then definitely talk to them about your vegan lifestyle!
Tell a little white lie.
Every now and then, for everyone’s sake, you might have to tell a little white lie. Some families show their love through food and will be hurt if you turn down whatever they cooked for you. First please make sure that your family understand that this is not criticizing how they raised you. If anything they made you into this compassionate person, that cares about the animals and the environment.
But then there is old Aunt Bernice, who just slaved away in the kitchen making your favorite dish, just special for you…how can you possibly not have some? No matter what you say she will not get it and will be hurt, and you don’t want that.
And then there are people who are somehow compelled to now make it their mission to get you to eat that thing you no longer want to eat.
Well, sometimes it’s just easier to say you are avoiding something for health reasons. Very few people will keep pressuring you to eat animal products if you tell them that your doctor said not to, or that you are trying some kind of elimination diet to clear up an issue.
Bring something delicious to dinner.
Make sure to call your host ahead of time and arrange to bring a vegan dish, or two, to dinner. A main dish and a dessert (if you’re up for it) would be perfect. Just make sure to pull out all the stops and bring the most tempting and delicious dishes you can think of. This is definitely not the time to whip up that supper healthy, fat-free, sugar-free, salt-free kale and flax loaf. Make whatever dish you choose to bring mouthwatering and decadent. And make sure that you bring enough for everyone to try some. You want to tempt your friends and show them that there is absolutely nothing missing from your diet.
Let someone else do the dirty work.
Let’s say that someone at dinner just will not let up about how extreme you are…how you’ll die of some deficiency…how animals are just too tasty, etc….Rather than trying to get into a heated argument with them, let the experts do it. Tell them that it would be better not to get into this at dinner, but you would be happy to suggest a couple of documentaries for them to watch. Once they watch the films, then you can get together and talk about veganism at a more appropriate time.
Enjoy some non-food events together.
If you just don’t feel that you can sit at the table, just skip the dinner. You can suggest getting together to do something that you all enjoy that does not involve food. Go see the tree and the lights, go ice skating or shopping together. You could also drop in and visit either before or after the dinner. That way you get to see everyone, but don’t have to deal with the food.
Host the dinner.
If it’s possible, you could always suggest that you host the dinner this year. That way, you can have total control of what goes on the table. It will also give you a perfect opportunity to let everyone taste all the amazing food you get to enjoy!