How To Stay Vegan During the Holidays With Non-Vegans

Emmanuel's Earthly Goods is happy to bring you humor from Emily Barwick on surviving the holidays...

Vegan Holiday Survival Guide*

(These tips are designed to help new/existing vegans who have to or want to spend the holidays with non-vegans but don’t want deal with arguments, debates, or familial World War III.

They are not to excuse or condone the tradition-backed slaughter & consumption of innocent beings, nor suggest that vegans should tiptoe around & cater to the desires and comforts of non-vegan friends and family.

Some vegans do want to preserve relationships & some just want to make it through and get out of there. This is for you. Militant, grandstanding vegans, you do your thing…)

Tip #1: Tell Them!

If you’re going to be visiting family or a gathering of friends, make sure to inform your host that you’re vegan and what that means. Be specific but not overly complicated. Informing ahead of time helps avoid the awkward and potentially insulting experience of refusing to eat anything you’re served.

Tip #2: Contribute!

Offer to bring your own dish to share. This can help lighten their load and ensure you have something to eat with the added bonus is helping non-vegans see just how tasty vegan food can be.

Tip #3: Pre-Fill!

If you’re sure there’s not going to be much for you to eat and brining food doesn’t feel right, eat your meal beforehand and stick to safe sides at the gathering. But watch out for the sneaky non-vegan dishes we’ll discuss soon.

Tip #4: Don’t Freak Out!

Social gatherings and family gatherings in particular, are already stressful for many of us. Add in vegan angst and the heartbreak and frustration of seeing loved ones eating loved ones and it’s easy to lose your cool. Try to stay grounded or numb out. This usually isn’t the best time for a vegan stump speech. However…

Tip #5: Anticipate The Inquisition!

It’s very likely that you will receive questions about veganism. Be prepared with grounded, factual answers. Check out my entire series on common nutrition concerns with Dr. Greger. I also have videos on the plant argument, what would happen if the whole world went vegan, and more. However….

Tip #6: Focus on Family & Friends

If you don’t feel like defending or explaining, steer the conversation to non-food-related talk. How is your cousin’s school going? What did your friend think of the new movie out? It’s perfectly okay to talk about other issues to get through the occasion without further bloodshed than what's already on their plates.

Tip #7: Trample Temptations

If you still have temptations for non-vegan foods, it’s best to have a plan in place. Offer to bring a vegan version of the desert or dish you crave the most. Find healthy, vegan snack alternatives, simply drink more water or, and this sound ridiculous, but run away. And I don’t mean bolt out of the house and down the street. Just go into a different room and start a conversation or excuse yourself to the restroom to regroup. This is also a helpful tactic if conversation or emotions become too heated

Tip #8: Beware The Stealth Dishes & Make Alternatives!

There are several common holiday dishes that at first glance appear vegan but are usually not. Check out the Thanksgiving and Christmas recipe playlists linked below for alternative recipes for your holiday favorites.

Some to watch out for are:

Mashed potatoes, which usually include butter and milk or cream. Instead, use vegetable broth and/or plant milk and/or coconut or olive oil.

Gravy, which is usually made from the juice of roasted meat. For an alternative, you can make mushroom gravy.

Cranberry sauce, which often contains gelatin. Cooked long enough, the natural pectin in cranberries with thicken the sauce. Otherwise, use ground flax seeds or agar powder.

Green bean casserole, which usually contain milk and cheese, easily swapped with vegan options.

Homemade biscuits, which usually contain butter but can easily be made without or with a substitute.

Pumpkin pie, which often has eggs, cream and butter, all of which can be substituted.

And stuffing is usually baked in the gutted out body cavity of a turkey carcass. Instead, don’t bake it inside the gutted out body cavity of a turkey carcass. Maybe use a casserole dish.