Focus on friends, family and flexibility for a happy holiday season.
Whether you’re newly vegan or have been following a plant-based diet for years, the holiday season can be challenging. Once November hits, your mind goes to, “How will I survive the holidays?” Just smelling the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen will put your stomach in a frenzy. The holidays have a way of making a vegan meal plan difficult to sustain—and although more people than ever are converting to veganism, the odds of finding yourself at a dinner party full of other like-minded eaters is slim. With the right attitude and these essential tips, however, you can still have a happy holiday season—without going hungry.
1. Be wise: veganize.
Whether you are a vegan host, or are having a party where there will be vegan guests, Tofurkey is a good choice for a main dish or alternate main dish. It comes with vegan stuffing, gravy and “turkey,” and many skeptical nonvegans have been known to appreciate the taste. You can also easily veganize most side dishes without losing any flavor. When making mashed potatoes or other starches, just substitute butter and cream with Earth Balance or another butter substitute, almond milk, olive oil or even tofu. When cooking green vegetables, steam them or sauté in olive oil. A quick Google search reveals a wealth of vegan recipes for every taste—even holiday desserts.
2. Bring a dish.
If someone invites you to a dinner or cocktail party, offer to bring a dish that everyone can enjoy. This not only helps lighten the host’s load but also ensures you’ll have something to eat!
3. Appreciate the effort.
If you notice someone is making an effort to make sure you are included in a meal, such as not putting cheese on the salad, be sure to take a big serving and say thank you!
4. Offer to help in the kitchen.
Not only is helping out a kind gesture, but while you’re at it, you can help veganize some of the meal prep and take stress off the host.
5. Trample temptation.
If you think you’ll be tempted by nonvegan foods at holiday parties, have a plan in place. Remember all the positive reasons why you became a vegan, but that will only take you so far. Like the Boy Scouts, you must be prepared. Before heading out to a dinner of questionable veganity, pack nuts, dried fruits or other favorite snacks in your pocket or bag.
6. Don’t diss the turkey.
That giant golden-brown bird or carved ham at the center of the table probably looks unappetizing to you, but a holiday party is not the right place to tell someone their food is gross, give a speech about slaughterhouses, etc. If anything, that kind of attitude will steer meat eaters away from veganism for the foreseeable future.
7. You don’t have to be the spokesperson for veganism.
You will probably receive questions about veganism at family holiday parties. It’s helpful to be prepared with grounded answers, but if you don’t feel like defending and explaining—or you’d rather not argue about animal rights with Uncle Abner, again—steer the conversation in another direction: “Did you see the new season of Stranger Things?” or “Are you doing anything fun on New Year’s Eve?”
What is your strategy for navigating the holidays? Let us know in the comments below!
Casey Johnson is Live Happy's Digital Marketing Coordinator.