5 Tips on Surviving Thanksgiving as a Vegan
Thanksgiving has grown to mean spending time with loved ones, sharing gratitude, and enjoying a delicious spread of comfort food. But, what if the food on the table gives you ethical anxiety? Many vegans and vegetarians out there come from families of mixed dietary choices, so this feeling is as common as pumpkin pie. There are ways to get through the evening with minimal discomfort, however. Here are some places to start:
1. Offer to bring a vegan dish. If you aren’t hosting Thanksgiving, you can still be a part of the culinary spread. Usually, hosts will greatly appreciate an offer to bring a side dish, so why not offer one? You could cook up Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s brand new green bean casserole, a homemade stuffing filled Field Roast sausage, or even a bomb dairy-free mac & cheese!
2. Prepare for some questions. Unless you are heading to a meal of only vegans, you will more than likely receive some scrutiny from other guests. Be prepared for everything from a little side-eye to being asked to describe your entire vegan philosophy. The best thing to remember is that you have the choice when it comes to how deeply you engage with these questions. Sometimes, they are borne of pure curiosity and having a simple and informed answer can satisfy, and maybe even inspire, the person. Other times, “jokes” or jabs might come your way. Be prepared to handle those “mmm, you sure you don’t want any of this turkey?” questions with a calm answer, such as “No, these roasted vegetables are incredibly flavorful!”
3. Bring recipe cards with you. If you bring along a tasty appetizer, side dish, or cocktail, print or write out the recipe on some index cards and pass them out to guests so they can recreate the dish at home. This is not only a way to invite others to cook vegan food, but it will invite more purposeful questions and comments, like “Where can I find almond milk?” Those are questions we can feel better about answering, all while making sure folks see plant-based eating as easy and accessible.
4. Wear a smile. Sometimes it can be a heavy burden to walk through life watching others participate in the consumption of animals. Thanksgiving can really challenge these compassionate ideals and make us feel sad, bitter, or angry. While those emotions are totally okay to feel, it might be advantageous to funnel these feelings into something productive for later (see Step #5). If our friends and family see vegans happily chowing down on plant-based foods and able to maintain relationships with omnivores (even if there’s a bit of healthy challenging to the status quo going on!), they will feel more invited to explore veganism and what it’s all about. Conversely, if they see a sulky, preachy vegan at the table they will most certainly be turned off.
5. Plan a vegan celebration for later. Whether your family celebration goes off without a hitch or not, considering an all-vegan feast or get-together with friends for afterward might be a great move for self-care. By reminding yourself of your ethics and how there are wonderful people, companies, and organizations out there set on changing the world, you will certainly feel energized to keep up the good work. Heck, even if you just treat yourself to a delicious dinner for one, incorporate some form of checking in with your vegan principles over a plate of delicious vegan food.
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