I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for this year’s holiday season which means being nestled in a blanket near twinkling lights, watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, sipping on Eggnog and gobbling up gingerbread. And being vegan doesn’t change any of that. Just because my Vegan Nog is made with coconut instead of eggs and dairy doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it any less and I encourage all of you skeptics to give it a go!
No matter what you celebrate (or don’t) this holiday, being vegan can be challenging. Here are a few of those challenges I’ve encountered over the years and my way of combating them . . .
There will be nothing vegan on the dinner table
My first year of being vegan, I brought hummus and tortilla chips for our festive dinner (how inspiring, right?) and ate my weight in cranberry bread and salted mixed nuts. Never again. Not only was I completely unsatisfied, but I was a pretty depressing representation of a vegan to my friends and family members.
Not anymore . . . Now, I never waste an opportunity to wow everyone with a homemade dish or two (or three!) that is sure to blow their minds. This year, I’m preparing a creamy spinach dip, Hot For Food’s Thanksgiving roast, and FINALLY splurging on Miyoko’s nut cheeses that have gracefully landed on the shelves at Lifestyles Organic Markets.
I was gifted something that’s not vegan
This has happened to me many times and sadly, I cannot blame anyone but myself. I neglected to be more vocal on being vegan and what exactly that entails. I have been gifted milk chocolate simply by not even telling the individuals that I’m vegan and was even gifted a hand-knitted wool sweater.
As generous as these gifts were, I simply couldn’t accept them and either donated or returned what I could and yes, it felt like crap, but I had to learn the consequences of being a mute vegan. I now take the time to describe that being vegan isn’t just about food, but relates to what I wear and use from cosmetics to duvets to scarves. As difficult as it can be to bring up your beliefs and vegan lifestyle in conversation, it’s a sure-fire way to never be gifted Toblerone again.
Aunt Marge won’t respect my decision to go vegan
Nothing says the holidays like a good old fashion argument at the table where both sides will never see eye to eye. Politics, religion, money, veganism . . . these are the things that spark immense emotions and puts everyone on the defense. No matter how many scientific facts or testimonials support veganism, some people will simply not embrace an open mind and yes, those people will start going on about their relationship with bacon and you just have to let it go. I’m all for educating people who are respectful, but most bacon lovers sadly aren’t.
I encourage you to sharpen up your knowledge with documentaries (there are a plethora on Netflix to start), books (Eating Animals by Johnathan Safran Foer is an incredibly enriching read) and include your own personal journey. All that knowledge and first hand experience will be there for you when you’re pinned down on the spot explaining why eating eggs isn’t ethical or the age-old quest of someone putting way too much emphasis on how much protein you eat.
So what does it mean to be vegan during the holidays? It means having gratitude for all the love around you, giving in ways other than material gifts, sharing recipes, creating moments that will forever spark happiness and never denying who you are and what you believe in.