Do you feel like this li’l fella around Christmas time? I know I sure have before…
photo credit @nina09
To over-simplify the matter, on the Christmas lunch or dinner table, vegans see cruelty and suffering towards innocent beings. This is pretty emotive. Other family members see love, care and thoughtfulness and a great feed. It’s two worlds that just don’t see eye to eye.
So here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learnt over the years to make the silly season more bearable. I’m not trying to detract from the issues at hand, more I am suggesting how to make the most of the situation.
Christmas is such a busy time so I’ve also shared some tips on how to take care of yourself this Christmas.
Vegan Christmas Survival Tips for Food Politics
1. Bring a plant-based dish or several dishes that everyone can share
Share some festive plant-based dishes with your family and friends so you know there’ll be some great food you will enjoy. This way you’re less likely to alienate yourself and can actually get people talking about how tasty, easy and innovative plant-based food is! Not sure where to start? No worries! I have shared My Favourite Festive Plant-Based (Vegan) Christmas Recipes in another post. So check that out for some inspiration.
photo credit @Einladung_zum_Essen
2. Focus on the non-food related aspects of Christmas
Food is often the focus of Christmas, which can be very enjoyable but sometimes that focus gets in the way of being able to enjoy this festive time. Take the focus off the food and focus on the spirit of Christmas instead – the cheer, spending time with loved ones, care, gratitude, music and arts, activities and games, gift giving and sweet gestures etc. This is an important one for all of us – you definitely don’t need to be vegan to make the most out of this tip!
photo credit @betexion
3. Consider a separate vegan Christmas pot luck
If the food situation is utterly depressing on Christmas Day, try having a vegan potluck with like-minded friends on the days leading up to or just after Christmas. That way you can enjoy a whole feast of plant-based festive foods with like-minded people so you don’t feel like you’re missing out!
photo credit @jimmylikestoeat
4. If veganism comes up in conversation, spark interest as a positivist
If the topic of your dietary/lifestyle choices comes up in conversation, focus on the many fabulous health and environmental benefits that come with eating more plant foods.
A few examples include:
- getting in more fibre and antioxidants from fruits, grains and vegetables
- improved gut health
- greater dietary variety from exploring new foods and recipes
- improved heart health and lower cholesterol levels
- improved blood sugar and diabetes control
- anti-inflammatory properties of plant foods
- reducing global/carbon footprint
- reduced waste and packaging from eating wholefoods
- improved mood and focus
- saving money by substituting meat and dairy for legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables
I know you have soooo many other issues you want to share about why you choose a vegan lifestyle, but trust me, your family members will zone out on topics they don’t want to hear. Pick your battles; inspiring people will work better than guilt and shame on this day.
photo credit @catkin
5. Get creative, show how vegan is easy!
For many people one of the challenges of making vegan meals is that it all seems to hard.
What they don’t (yet) know is that every Christmas dish can be ‘veganised’ with a few simple tweaks to the recipe. Get creative and explain to your family (or even better show them) how you can keep the same recipes but easily tweak a couple of ingredients to pique their interest and show that it’s basically the same food, but now 100% plant-based.
Here are some basic ingredient swaps that you can share with your family to make your family Christmas recipes 100% plant-based
- Substitute eggs with ‘flax eggs‘ in your Christmas pudding
- Replace gelatine with agar when making jelly
- Swap honey with pure maple syrup or date syrup
- Switch out Rum/Brandy Cream with a delicious rum-laced Coconut cream or Cashew cream
photo credit @StockSnap
Have yourself a merry plant-based Christmas!
I hope these tips can help you focus on enjoying Christmas with family and friends, even when you may not see eye-to-eye.
And don’t forget to look after yourself too! Often we’re so busy with organising things (and people) we don’t take the time to look after ourselves. I’ve written some tips to help you with Self Care over the festive season.
Lots of love and cheers to the end of 2018 and start of the marvellous New Year!
By vegan plant-based dietitian (APD) Amber Sewell-Green