Tips for vegans during the holidays.
How to manage tense family or social situations as a new vegan. Tips for how to be vegan during the holidays.
Tofurky, mushroom gravy, donations to animal sanctuaries, OH MY! It must be the holiday season.
Holidays can be really stressful as it is, let alone if you’re a vegan.
Don’t fret! Your vegan auntie is here to help guide you through this time of year.
Here are some tips to help you survive the holiday season as a vegan without crying in the bathroom all night or throwing pumpkin pie at Uncle Jeff.
#1 Mentally prepare for it to be awkward or tense
If you go in expecting this, then you won’t be as offended when the vegan jokes start rolling in.
Your goal shouldn’t be to make people vegan on the spot. The best we can do is to plant seeds and not be attached to the outcome.
We do this by slowly chipping away at myths and false statements when they come up.
Calmly stand your ground if someone makes a false statement about veganism, or politely answer questions.
People get REALLY touchy and offended just by you being vegan and it can come out in funny ways.
Just be prepared and don’t get offended and react negatively. (But you probably will, it takes practice. We’re only human. Be nice to yourself too)
#2 Don’t bring it up (people will inevitably ask questions)
TRUST ME, people will bring it up for you. It’s pretty much a guarantee, especially if you’re a new vegan.
It’s best if you just calmly answer questions and correct false assumptions. People are more likely to be receptive and open if they’re the ones bringing it up.
#3 Know how to answer the most commonly asked vegan questions
Why are you vegan? – this is probably the most asked question so really think about this one
Where do vegans get protein? (same place big-ass gorillas do: plants)
Isn’t soy bad for you? (Hint: it’s been shown to have anti-cancer effects)
Don’t animals kill animals? (when they were designed for it and it is for their survival. Our physiology is made for eating plants: long gut, enzymes in the saliva made to break down carbs, a jaw that moves side to side to better chew fibrous foods, no claws, bad eyesight, etc. Eating animals at this time is actually threatening our survival because it’s a huge contributor to climate change.)
We’ve always eaten meat and it’s natural. (recent discoveries of paleo-poo show that we mostly ate plants. While we were in the phase of our evolution where our gut was evolving, we ate like the other Great Apes: plants. We started eating animals when moving into colder climates where plants weren’t as prevalent and we only needed enough calories to survive to reproductive age)
Watch these two videos after reading this post. They are really helpful
How to answer common vegan questions – By Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
10 quick comebacks for vegans – by Mic the Vegan.
#4 Try to keep your cool
If people make fun of you, stand up for yourself in a polite way. Try to refrain from attacking back if you can help it. No one will be receptive if you insult them back.
Do whatever you need to do before the party to put yourself in a relaxed frame of mind: yoga, meditation, take CBD (this is a must for me), go for a walk, smoke weed, listen to an inspiring podcast. Vegan auntie’s orders.
#5 Be understanding, but stand your ground
Remember, the system is set up for people to believe that eating animal products is normal. They are not bad people.
We have all been brainwashed since birth. It takes time to chip away at this. Remember that you have been in their shoes. How would you have liked to have been treated?
People can tell when they’re being judged and will shut down. If you’re a little more understanding (but not apologetic and you still stand your ground), people will feel more relaxed and receptive.
#6 You are not a burden. Don’t apologize for being vegan
If you feel like a burden, offer to bring your own food to share.
You are doing an amazing thing for EVERY LIVING BEING on this planet by being vegan. That is nothing to apologize for.
#7 Have a moment to yourself to decompress and watch inspiring vegan videos.
I can get bummed being around animal products, so this is a necessity for me. I do this when it all starts to be too much.
To stay vegan long-term, you have to learn how to navigate tense social situations. Decompressing and staying inspired are a must.
#8 Cook DAMN TASTY food and share it
If you’re going to a party, always bring a dish to share. Make a main dish for yourself and then a dish to share.
Don’t bring healthy dishes. We want to WOW people with vegan food and healthy dishes can sometimes taste a little TOO healthy. This might turn people off to veganism even more.
Be warned, people scrutinize vegan food like nothing else, so don’t be offended.
Some people will hate it just because it’s vegan. People are weird about vegan food and will mind f*ck themselves into hating it.
#9 Veganize the side dishes
if you have a say with the meal, ask your family very very nicely if you can veganize all the side dishes. Offer to help.
Many sides are pretty close to being vegan anyway. All you usually need to do is swap in vegan butter, eggs or dairy. My favorite vegan butter lately is Miyoko’s.
#10 Create new traditions
We all get very touchy about changing family traditions. Try to make new ones to fill the void. Try a new beer each year, make vegan pie together or donate to an animal sanctuary.
#11 Host the dinner and ask for it to be vegan (not possible for everyone, but still worth a try)
This is not possible for MANY of us, especially if you’re a new vegan. I was only able to do this after being vegan for 3-4 years.
If you’re a few years into your journey, and people have had the chance to get used to you being vegan, try your hand at hosting a vegan holiday.
It’s great because you can have more control over the food and share some AMAZING dishes. This might open people’s minds a little more.
#12 Connect with other vegans in-person or online.
If hosting your holiday dinner isn’t possible, find a vegan potluck before or after the holiday or host one with your friends.
It’s so important to feel like you’re part of a community as a vegan, especially around the holidays. It’s exhausting having to defend or explain yourself all the time.
It’s important to have a break from all of that.
Find like-minded people either in person or online, to re-energize yourself.
If you can’t find a vegan potluck, connect with vegans online. Scroll through vegan instagram or check in with a vegan facebook group.
It can feel really lonely being the only vegan at a party. This will make you feel like a part of the community.
#13 Give back. Focus on the good.
If being around animal products is bumming you out, cheer yourself up by donating to charities that are making a difference. Focus on the changes we’re making. Focus on the way the world is slowly changing to being more open to veganism (even if it doesn’t feel like it)
#14 Most people will come around and won’t react badly forever
If you stay true to your ethics, I promise you, your friends and family will eventually calm down. If they’re true friends, they will even start making vegan food for you when you come over.
My friends and family are always really good about this now. My mom is always excitedly showing up with some vegan cookies, breads or a soup every time I see her. So, just hang in there. The beginning is always the hardest.
You’ll probably make mistakes. Be kind to yourself. This all takes time
It takes time to learn how to navigate the holidays as a vegan. Don’t beat yourself up if you mess up and yell at Uncle Jeff or don’t know a good response to a question someone attacked you with.
I like to learn from these mistakes and use them to push myself to keep growing as a vegan.
Most people quit veganism because of the social stress and pressure. If you can learn to manage the stress of this, you’re on your way to being a lifelong vegan. Leave any questions you have in the comment section below.