We are RIGHT in the thick of the holiday season with many people getting together for family, fun, and food! Navigating the holidays can be challenging for ANYONE.
However, making your way through potlucks and parties can be especially challenging especially if you’re a new vegan or vegetarian or are simply trying to reduce meat consumption.
Luckily, plant-based eating is becoming less and less of a “fringe” lifestyle as more people are realizing that yes, good food without animal products is ENTIRELY possible!
Nevertheless, the challenge of finding something to eat at a party or potluck can be a struggle. We’ve put together 7 tips to help you navigate the holidays as a vegetarian or vegan.
Tip #1: Check in With Your Host First
These days, with so many people suffering from food allergies or adhering to special diets, a good host will more than likely reach out to guests to check for any sort of dietary restrictions.
Still, don’t be surprised if your host freaks out a little if they find out you are vegan or vegetarian. In speaking with my own family and friends, several admitted to really worrying that I’d have enough good stuff to eat. Help put them at ease! This is a great opportunity to help dispel any stereotypes and let them know you’re happy to help in any way you can.
For example, my brother took over hosting Thanksgiving for the family soon after Larissa and I became vegetarian.
He admitted not knowing anything at all about what to serve so I helped him understand that Larissa and I prefer the side dishes anyway, so if he could substitute vegetable stock instead of beef or chicken stock in his recipes, that would be helpful.
Problem averted, AND I also indirectly educated him on how easy it was to use vegetable stock in place of beef or chicken stock!
Tip #2: Bring Something!
Probably the safest way to ensure you’ll have something to eat is to bring your own dish.
This is also a GREAT opportunity to showcase vegetarian and vegan food. There’s nothing quite like someone trying your dish and saying, “That’s vegan??? Wow!”
Tip #3: Eat First
Even if you do bring your own dish, it’s often a good idea to eat a little something first so you aren’t starving when you get there. This is a good tip, especially if you are attending a potluck for your job or one that’s being hosted by someone you don’t know.
Eating something first will help you stick to your goals and allow you to enjoy the event.
Tip #4: Don’t Use Holiday Events as a Soapbox
Many vegetarians and vegans are passionate about protecting animals, but there is a time and a place for everything.
You may recall that in episode 291 we talked about how the “call-out culture” is actually hurting the bigger cause of protecting the animals and the planet attempting to shame people into changing their behaviors or beliefs.
Just as you wouldn’t bring up politics or religion in this type of setting, it’s a good idea to save the discussion about animal activism for a different time and place.
Tip #5: Stay Focused on the People and on What Truly Matters
The holidays should be about the family and friends we get to spend time with. While food is a great way to bond and share an experience, it’s really secondary (or at least should be!) to the people at the party.
Staying focused on what truly matters is always sound advice, especially when spending time with loved ones.
Tip #6: Keep a Sense of Humor
Navigating the holidays (or anything for that matter!) is always easier when you keep a sense of humor.
Good ol’ Uncle Joe probably doesn’t mean harm when he tussles your hair and tells you that there seems to be something missing from your plate.
Take it in stride!
Tip #7: Navigating the Gift List
This year, we tried something new with our family: we started a thread in our “family only” closed Facebook group for sharing gift ideas for ourselves and for all of the kids.
If you’re trying to avoid receiving a leather bag or a steakhouse gift card, having a family gift list will help alleviate some of the guesswork for others. People will definitely appreciate it!
Additionally, you shouldn’t feel pressured to spend your money on a steakhouse gift card or any other gift that goes against your beliefs. These days, there are plenty of options for gifts, including generic Visa gift cards that can be used almost anywhere.
We hope we’ve provided you with some useful tips for navigating the holidays as a vegan or vegetarian, or as someone who is simply looking to reduce meat.
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Thanks for listening!
Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa