Help! I’m Vegan, and it’s the holidays…
You and me both sister! Oh, and your family is probably not from the South. They already looked at me like I was from Mars when I didn’t eat red meat, as they dug into their prime rib on Christmas Eve. I have always been the subject of ridicule my whole life because of this (I haven’t eaten red meat in years.)
This last year, I finally decided to stop pretending that I ate chicken and dairy, which always upset my stomach. Suddenly, I’m happier about what I was putting into my body and much healthier.
But, now I have a bigger issue, people care even more about what I’m eating at “community meals.” “Community meals” are any gatherings that you share food with other people – dinner parties, birthday gatherings and holidays. Let me be frank – I never cared what anyone else ever ate, yet people have very strong opinions about what I eat. This upsets me!
So, here I am, and it’s my first Thanksgiving as a Vegan (Technically, I’m a SeaganTM. A term I’ve coined, because I still eat seafood. I know I’m ostracized by meat eaters AND Vegetarians/Vegans, alike!), and I didn’t have a plan to A.) not starve and B.) not get sick from eating butter covered vegetables at Thanksgiving dinner…
So, I put together this strategy to hopefully avoid offending my husband’s family, while hopefully feeding myself food that won’t make me sick (remember the dairy issues). I hope these ideas can help you, if you find that you’re facing a similar struggle this holiday season!
1. Reach out to the host in advanced to explain my dietary restrictions. I don’t expect anyone to change their menu or cook anything special for me, but I don’t want to show up with food of my own or not eat anything prepared without having a conversation first.
2. Find or cook your Vegan food. I found that I can pick-up my meal; plus, a little more in case anyone else wants some. A handful of places do this, and Whole Foods has the best options for the most reasonable rate. You can reserve a Vegan dinner for two for $39.99 and add other sides that you like – I added the maple Brussel sprouts! I know we could cook, but I am a horrible cook, and Mark will be cooking for Thanksgiving. I prefer to take care of myself and bring enough to share.
3. Bring a Vegan-friendly dessert. We found a great recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip bread with almond milk that’s phenomenal. I’m so excited to have more and to share it with everyone!
4. Try to not explain my diet to everyone. I’ve found at these “community meals” that as soon as I have to ask for a change to a menu item, or bring my own item, that I have to explain why I need this. This winds up being a long conversation. I’m sorry to all of the people who have had this conversation with me, and I’m focusing on simply answering quickly and continuing normal conversation at all future functions. That person is not fun, and some how it’s easy to wind up being that person when you’ve been ridiculed a lot. You feel you have to explain your choices to everyone. But you don’t. Most people accept you and your decisions.
I’m feeling very optimistic about this holiday season and my new diet. I know I won’t feel sick when I’m done eat like I have every other year, and I know I’m going to love my meal. I’ve taken the stress of what can I eat and what I cannot eat out of it. I’m glad I thought ahead to not have to stress about it. I hope you can too!