While most people welcome a chance to relax and enjoy time spent with family and friends during the holidays, for a vegan these can be trying times. I would hope that other vegans have a more pleasant and supportive experience with family members in regards to their lifestyle choices than I do. But I wanted to write some helpful words of advice and encouragement for those struggling to be understood by a less than understanding family.
When you are just starting out on your vegan voyage, the holidays can be hard enough just due to the temptations that abound. (I decided to go vegan when I returned from a vacation, and that day just so happened to be Easter Sunday.) However, once you have been vegan for a few years, the challenge instead becomes sitting at a table covered in body parts and watching those you love devour the innocent, poison their bodies, and decimate the planet. Good luck keeping your appetite at all.
The good news is that both of these issues can be ameliorated in the same way! The best thing to do to keep yourself sane and kindle some warmth in your soul during the holiday months is to find some new vegan recipes to try out. For someone like me who isn’t the most capable cook, it can sometimes be difficult to find recipes that don’t include dozens of expensive/uncommon ingredients or intricate instructions. Some of the simplest, quickest, and most delicious recipes that I have found recently are from The Minimalist Baker. This blog even has a special collection of recipes just for Thanksgiving that you can find here. (I am definitely going to recreate a few of these babies to enjoy this year!)
Creating your own buffet of vegan delicacies is a great way to eliminate the temptation of all the non-vegan dishes and desserts that will be right under your nose (and if your family is anything like mine, you may be pressured to take part in.) This is also a great opportunity to emphasize to those you love just how achievable and maintainable a vegan diet truly is. Some of my relatives regularly eat vegan alternative products just because I’ve shown them that they are so damn delicious!
Apart from the food itself, holidays as a vegan can also be difficult due to being misunderstood or even mocked by family members. Going vegan can turn a gathering that was once associated with warmth and togetherness into something dreadful and frustrating. Even after all these years my family never seems to get tired of poking fun at the vegans. (I’m lucky enough to have a vegan sister to share the harassment with.)
I don’t believe my relatives intend to be hurtful, but this just further emphasizes their lack of understanding. Somehow they still don’t comprehend how important this aspect of my life is to me. It makes me feel as if they haven’t even heard any of the things I’ve said on the matter. I truly hope that other’s have a more positive experience with this than I have, but I know there are certainly vegans out there that know this struggle all too well.
The best advice that I can give is to persevere.
It is highly unlikely you are going to convert anyone to a vegan lifestyle during a holiday feast or find anything other than aggressive opposition to your attempts for that matter. I have learned to just try my hardest to represent a happy, healthy, vegan lifestyle the best that I can, but not to press the issue too violently. I answer any questions openly and honestly. I try to stay positive and not let my disappointment, frustration, and anger get the best of me. I avoid letting myself get sucked into the negative spiral within my mind that any outright opposition to veganism tends to initiate in me. I try to keep my heart open and focus my mind on all that I am grateful for, because there is so much. I also try to think of who I was before going vegan and try to empathize with my unfortunate family members who still haven’t made the connection and are lost in the fog of carnism.
Finally, I would just like to extend an invitation to any vegans out there that need emotional support and encouragement for the upcoming months. Please feel free to contact me. I would be more than happy to help in anyway that I can. You are strong. You are compassionate. You can get through this.
Good luck, dear ones. ♥