Christmas really snuck up on us this year, didn’t it? It feels like I blinked and December just came and went unnoticed. Christmas was especially hectic this year because I navigated my way through my first ever vegan Christmas! I can’t say it was particularly easy, but I made it through alive and without ingesting animal products.
My family is from a small town in Ontario. I’m sure there are some vegans hanging around the city but I think most of them are in hiding. I don’t think there are any vegetarian restaurants and there is one specialty grocery store that I imagine would carry some vegan options. My dad spent most of the holiday wrapping his head around what exactly being vegan entails and I can’t count the number of times someone offered me a cheese ball and then proceeded to say “ohh right… the vegan thing…”.
Here are a few tips on how I
barely survived my first vegan Christmas.
1) Have a “why I went vegan story” and stick to it.
Be prepared, everyone is going to ask you why you decided to go vegan. It is going to come up every time an appetizer is served, breakfast is cooking, or when everyone sits down for dinner. Your great-uncle-twice-removed is going to heckle you the entire holiday about how it’s human nature to eat animals and it’s part of the chain of life blah blah blah. If you stick to your reasons for going vegan and politely decline food made with animal products, your loving family should just leave you alone. It’s a personal decision to adapt a vegan lifestyle so don’t let your uneducated distance cousins get you down.
2) Prepare your own vegan options
Before I travelled home for the holidays, I made sure to stock up on my vegan cooking essentials. I packed a cooler to take with me on the trip so I would have no problem cooking/baking my own food at home. Some of the goodies I brought were: Earth Balance vegan butter, GF bread, Almande almond milk yogurt, almond milk, almond milk egg nog, veganaise, and coconut dates. Having these vegan options made preparing meals a lot less stressful and it was great to see my family giving them a try (even though my sister politely spit most of them out into her napkin).
3) Offer to host
Every year my girl friends from home all get together over Christmas. We don’t see each other very often so it’s always nice to reunite over Christmas break. I offered to host the get-together this year because I wanted to make sure there were vegan options for dinner. We decided to have a pot-luck dinner and I asked everyone to let me know what they were bringing so I could prepare a veg dish if need be. Luckily, my friends are all health nuts so I could eat pretty much everything! We had spinach salad, cabbage salad, vegetable samosas, sushi, and meat balls for the carnivores. To top it all off we had a delicious vegan chocolate pie for dessert.. yumm!
4) Read every label… twice.
This tip is not necessarily a ‘surviving Christmas tip’ but more of a general vegan tip I started doing more during the holidays. It’s not easy to look at a food product and quickly determine whether or not it is vegan (unless it says VEGAN in big bold letters on the packaging). Many of the food products we consume have traces of animal products in them. Gelatin, for example, is made from naturally occurring proteins found in animals. Gelatin is in gummy candies, marshmallows, yogurt, ice cream, and jams – so none of these products are vegan. I used to love making Jell-O shots but until I find a suitable vegan alternative to gelatin I’ll have to retire my Jelly making.
I hope everyone had a great holiday!