Celebrating Holidays As A Vegan
Especially when you are new to the diet, celebrating holidays as a vegan can feel like a huge challenge. It's never fun to feel left out, and it's hard not to feel singled out when you're the only one not doing or eating something at a party.
It's awkward to say, "no thank you," when the host offers you his or her special, everyone-requests-this dish, it's awkward to go around a table picking and choosing what you'll eat, and it's the most awkward to ask if something is made with butter, milk, or eggs. Most of us prefer to avoid the whole situation by making up a lie (I'm on antibiotics, I just ate, or even, I just had one- it was delicious.)
I certainly am not one to judge if you decide to just go with the flow and eat one or two un-vegan things so as to avoid being uncomfortable or coming across as rude. I follow the rule that the more people who come to the vegan world, the better, and so I think being overly restrictive and rule-based can turn people away. Come one, come all.
But, I do have a few tips for how you can celebrate holidays as a vegan and not sacrifice either your dignity or your ethical beliefs.
#1 Tip: Bring a Dish. I always offer to bring something, and before the host can decline, I'll say something along the lines of, it's my favorite thing to make and I'd love to share it with other people. How can someone say no to that? Then you have something to eat, and you might just convert someone along the way.
#2: Avoid Confrontation. I don't talk about why I'm a vegan in a huge public place. If asked, I will tell the person something like this, "I'm sure not everyone wants to hear that long story. I'd love to talk to you about it later though." I can always see the relief wash over the faces of all the other people who don't want to know the truth about animals, and then I don't feel like a pusher.
#3: Make Treats. The holiday season inevitably is filled with candy, cookies, pies, and a million other things that are horrible for waistlines. If you deny yourself these just because you decided to stop eating animals, somewhere inside you'll feel resentful of your own veganism. Make all those treats, and share them with others (see tip #1).
#4: Enjoy Your Choices. I always take time to be grateful that I've seen the light and learned about what impact my food choices have on my body, other living creatures, the environment, my waistline, and my spirit. When I feel good about myself and my decisions, it doesn't matter if someone teases me with a huge chunk of Thanksgiving turkey or badgers me about what's wrong with cheese, I know the truth and feel confident in it. I am better able to enjoy the spirit of the holidays and focus on the company of those around me when I'm sure of myself and my choices.
#5 Give Back. You can donate to Farm Sanctuary to help save a turkey during Thanksgiving, rather than eating a turkey along with the rest of North America. You can donate canned food to homeless shelters to help provide those in need with wholesome plant-based food options. You can bring leftover Halloween candy to the office and share with coworkers rather than consuming those milk-laden treats your kids bring home. There are thousands of ways you can help other animals and humans during the holidays, so give what you can.
Your enjoyment level when celebrating the holidays as a vegan is all dependent on your internal attitude. If you choose not to be nervous or to feel left out, you will find a way to relax and be happy.