4 Tips for a Happy Vegan Holiday

by Alena
Dec 23, 2015
woman with cozy beige knitted sweater holding a black and white mug of red tea

Being vegan in a world that thinks eating McDonald’s and Burger King on a regular basis is normal seems hard enough. But what if you don’t even get any support from the people you are closest to or share the same roof with?

No matter if it’s your parents, siblings, kids, or spouse – they might not be very enthusiastic about living a healthy, long and cruelty-free life. When you’re on a vegan diet, sharing meals with die-hard meat-eaters can become quite uncomfortable sometimes.

Especially during the holidays, things can get hot and heavy. The whole family comes together and you’re likely to be outnumbered by many in terms of food preferences.

Even without any dietary restrictions, this time of year is often a lot more stressful than usual. That’s why we hope this article will be especially helpful to you!

Unique Vegan Gift Ideas

4 Tips for a Happy Vegan Holiday

Here is how you not only survive but master the holidays amongst your non-vegan family! Everyone has a different approach, so take the advice that makes sense for you.

1. Educate, Motivate and Prepare Yourself

Knowing why you do what you do is half the battle. Get educated about the ethical, environmental and health reasons behind your choices.

There are endless arguments for taking on this path, like getting healthier, avoiding cruelty, losing weight, becoming fitter, caring about the earth, staying young, and so many more.

By growing a knowledge base, you are able to disprove other people’s arguments with actual science. So get your books and documentaries on, become confident and motivated! You’ve got this.

Best Vegan Documentaries

Especially the books The Starch Solution and The China Study, as well as the documentary Forks over Knives, are great ways to gain tons of knowledge. Prepare to face any criticism and help others understand why you’re not on some fad diet.

Be ready to answer the most common questions about protein, calcium, omega-3, and iron (hint: they’re all found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables) as well as giving them examples of what you actually CAN eat.

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woman placing raw cinnamon rolls next to each other in a baking dish

2. Make Sure You Are Happy With the Food

Tell your host in advance about your dietary preferences. Often times it’s possible to easily “veganize” some dishes such as mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffed squash, roasted vegetables and a salad dressing.

You can also offer to help to prepare some of the food – it’s best to ask what would be least stressful to them. Another great idea is to bring some of your favorite healthy self-made dishes, and bring lots of it.

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Once vegan food is on the table, people often get curious about what “vegan” tastes like and want to try some of it! One of the best ways to convince people is to offer them some delicious healthy food.

But be clear about your personal choices and that a holiday doesn’t mean you can “cheat on your diet” – it’s a lifestyle after all and not just a weight-loss program.

3. Conversations About Veganism

Don’t make others feel guilty about their food choices right away, it won’t get you anywhere and will just add up to stressful holiday situations.

Even though you can see “behind the scenes” and recognize the lives that were sacrificed for all these eggs, dairy products and meat – most others cannot.

Also, try not to bring up the reasons as to why you’ve made a diet change at the table – people won’t be open to hear them while consuming cheese and butter.

Instead, choose a better setting, wait for them to ask and suggest a one-on-one conversation after dinner.

Action speaks louder than words, live by example and plant seeds of compassion – be ready to open up to those wanting to learn more, those you’ve inspired.

Best Vegan Answers & Comebacks
woman with sunglasses standing on wooden bridge in a dress and smiling

4. Stay Cool and Shine On

The single best way to inspire others is by being the healthiest, happiest version of yourself.

Even though they might not bring it up, most of your friends and family will recognize how much shinier your hair is, that you’ve lost weight or seem to have a generally positive attitude.

This realization won’t necessarily bring you compliments though – sometimes, people are so afraid of change or being wrong that they try to bring you down no matter what.

This inner blockade can be a result of jealousy because you’re the living example of what can be achieved once you decide to start being proactive. Allow them to arrive at their own time and pace, face them with compassion.

There is no need to feel personally attacked when someone mocks you, take it with a grain of salt and understand that they do not know the facts and feel the way you do.

Lastly, when you think about being kind to people, don’t forget to count yourself in, too.

There is only so much you can or even need to take – and it’s okay to say “no” to a dinner that involves animal-based foods if this will gross you out or make you incredibly sad. That’s just not helpful for anyone, so honor your boundaries.

Nevertheless, we hope you’ll make it through this year’s holidays pretty smoothly with these 4 tips! Don’t forget to stay connected with people who go through the same and share your experience, so you’ll feel less alone.

What have your experiences around the holidays as vegan been like? Do you bring your own food or eat whatever is available? Let us know in the comments below.

Alena enjoying a bowl of fresh plant-based food and coffe in a restaurant
Alena Schowalter is a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work. Alena enjoys discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature and creating new recipes.
dark grey spotted bowl with a variety of vegetables next to small bottle of green smoothie isolated on light background

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4 thoughts on “4 Tips for a Happy Vegan Holiday”

  1. Thanks for this blog post.
    I am not vegan but hear how and why people are vegan and good it feels.
    Changing a diet to vegan or paleo or whatever diet I find is hard to get to, changing habits on diet is the biggest issue I am finding and reverting to poor habits. Like your article suggests I find if I am prepared I can eat and stick to my diet. The times when I stop planning and thinking forward is when I lose. Writing down when I will prepare meals is the only way, otherwise I just do not do it. The saying of ‘failing to plan then plan to fail’ resonates her for me.

    • Hi Kris,
      I am glad you liked the post. We have quite a few articles on how people’s lives improved by adopting a whole food vegan diet and it’s actually about more than just body weight or preventing diseases in the end :)
      We sure are all creatures of habit and just like your current diet is the result of many years or decades of eating a certain style, you need to get used to a new diet step by step. We love to refer to the term ‘crowding food out, not cutting it out’ since it can be a delicate matter for our brains to suddenly restrict many types of food you were used to, which can then result in uncontrollable binging.
      Another great tip is to just buy the healthy stuff and have it lying around, cook your food in bulk for the next several days. It’s an easy thing to do when it comes to rice, beans, potatoes, lentils etc.
      Maybe this additional info helps you a little!
      Let me know if you’d like to get some further guidance and just send me an email.
      All the best,

  2. For me, being vegan is a non-issue that I don’t feel the need to explain to anyone. I live in a family of big meat eaters and when we have family gatherings, I make sure to bring things I can eat and share with others. They don’t want to be left out any more than I do so I try to make it as easy as possible. So I may not eat as much as I would have had I been a meat eater, but YAY for me! No unwanted pounds packed on during the holiday! As far as discussions go, I simply do not talk about it. People feel the need to challenge things they don’t understand and frankly, holiday gatherings are not the place. I simply tell them we can discuss it further once the party is over if they still want to know. I make no excuses or light remarks. It’s deep for me, being a vegan. Some people will never understand and continue to confront. I shut it down right away, politely of course!
    My children worried about me at Thanksgiving. I was the only one who didn’t feel like throwing up from eating so much. I even allowed myself some vegan apple crisp for dessert. That’s a BIG deal for me as I usually forgo desserts.
    All in all, it’s a personal decision and hopefully people will learn to stand up and not be harassed by the decisions they make. Individuality is what makes the such an interesting world!
    Merry Christmas!

    • Wow, thanks so much for sharing this, Cristy! I agree with everything you wrote and have lots of respect for you – my family lets me and my husband cook for everyone most of the time when we’re over and my mother in law makes so much effort to prepare delicious plant-based meals for us.
      I cannot even imagine what it must be like for you and how you’re handling this really shows your awesome character and heart :)
      Wishing you and your loved ones happy holidays xx


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