I don’t know about you guys (my fellow vegans), but I am the black sheep in my family. The only vegan in a 100 mile radius of hunters and fishers. What went wrong?
Or right? ?
Therefore, the holidays can be a particularly challenging time of year. Being the only vegan, you often find yourself bringing your own dishes to Thanksgiving dinners, or cooking your own.
Christmas is also challenging because friends and family may buy an awesome gift for you without knowing it’s not vegan…
However, we made this choice to go vegan in the first place! Personally, I am not upset or put out that I have to do things a little differently during the holidays- I made this choice and I’m proud of it. I’m sure all of us feel this same way.
It’s a sacrifice I am making for the animals. A sacrifice I chose to make.
Holidays as a Vegan
Depending on your family, and how open or considerate they are, can make or break a holiday for you.
I don’t know about you, but I know when I first went vegan, I caught hell. As I said, my family on my dad’s side consists of hunters and fishers. They love their meat- and you will never see them giving it up.
So it may come as no shock that when I went vegan, there was a bit of a struggle. To this day, I still catch hell every now and then.
My point is- depending on the family atmosphere, Thanksgiving can present a problem for vegans.
Some families learn how to cook vegan and whip up some special dishes for you. On the flip side, sometimes you have to cook or bring your own food. And sometimes families may completely disregard your dietary preferences altogether.
But we know how to handle it at this point right my friends?
Here are a few tips that I use to get through Thanksgiving, to help my newer vegan friends through their first Thanksgiving this year.
Don’t Be Afraid Speak Up About Your Dietary Needs
Last year was my first Thanksgiving as a vegan. Everyone is chowing down on turkey and stuffing, potatoes with cream and butter, gravy with beef broth, and even the damn green beans have butter?
Last year, I had Thanksgiving with my cousin, aunt and uncle. They were generous enough to allow me to cook the vegetable portion of the meal.
I made my famous mashed potatoes with vegan butter (see recipe here), cooked up some canned green beans with vegan butter and garlic, and heated up some corn. I also stumbled upon some delicious vegan gravy that everyone enjoyed- Mayacama’s Brown Gravy.
That’s all I had for Thanksgiving, which is perfect for me! Truly, I like to keep my meals as simple as possible. So a couple of veggies and some mashed potatoes were just great!
The point is- don’t be afraid to speak up!! If the family isn’t planning on making anything vegan- then speak up so that you can.
When I first went vegan, I was always afraid of speaking up.
There were several instances when I first went vegan, that restaurants would make my food incorrectly. And I wouldn’t speak up- I simply just paid for food I did not eat.
How sad right?
Whether it is your server, or your mother, you have to speak up. Ask how those mashed potatoes were cooked, ask to look at the product labels. If what was cooked is not vegan, speak up and be willing to make your own food, or send it back to the kitchen.
If you care about your lifestyle preference and you are serious about it, you can’t be afraid to double check.
The reality is, most people judge vegans anyways- so why do you still care what they think of you?
Bring Your Supplements
If you are like me, sometimes with a meal like that of Thanksgiving (corn, potatoes, and green beans) may be satisfying, but worrying. Because obviously those 3 items alone are not going to provide you with the sufficient nutrients you need as a vegan.
This always stresses me out- especially in situations where I forget my supplements.
When I travel, or really when I go anywhere, I bring my vitamins, probiotics, and digestive enzymes- as well as an assortment of other herbal supplements!
Traveling to other cities we are not familiar with, can present a challenge on our diets. So we always need to be prepared!
If you can, pack a small ice chest full of vegan food and snacks for the trip.
I like to take all my supplements with me, as well as plenty of vegan protein powder and cashew milk. I also like to make jar meals- like Chickpea Salad (see recipe here), and Quinoa or Pasta Salads (recipes to come).
Obviously when you get to where you’re going, I’m sure your family will be more than willing to take you over to a grocery store.
But until then- preparation is not a bad thing!
Don’t Fight Back
One thing I learned, is that during big holiday gatherings, someone will undoubtedly start the vegan discussion. You know what I mean- someone has had too many beers and now they want to tussle wth you about your dietary choices.
Another thing I learned? I learned to let it go. To stop arguing. To stop getting angry. Because everyone has an opinion, and always will.
I used to fight my way through these arguments and try to shake my views into other’s, just as they tried to do to me.
But being vegan is a never ending battle.
We all want to fight back when we first go vegan. We want to defend our view and our choices.
Which is great!
But, you made this choice for you, but mostly for the animals. That’s it. No one else. So as yourself if that argument is worth having?
We could all fight for days, months, and years, about a topic we believe in. That’s the beauty of America.
Being vegan is almost as controversial a topic as abortion and gay marriage. People will fight with you forever.
You just have to learn to blow it off.
I’m not saying you should sit there and listen as they try to tear you apart. No, I mean simply shut it down with:
“You aren’t the only person who has tried this argument with me. You won’t change my mind, so let’s change the subject.”
If that doesn’t work- simply remove yourself from the situation. Leave the room, or make an excuse to go to the bathroom.
As they say- be the bigger person.
If this is your first Thanksgiving as a vegan, I wish you luck. Remember all my little tips- they may or may not save your ass this Thanksgiving.
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone,