Are you spending the holidays with your non-vegan family?

Family get-togethers can be overwhelming for anyone, but for vegans, there are a few particular challenges. These tips for navigating both the culinary and emotional aspects of the holiday season are great for anyone who wants to celebrate healthfully and joyfully.

Veganize Family Favorites
Remember that food connects people. And although family get-togethers can be dramatic and emotional, they can also be warm and comforting. Aside from how great it will be for you to enjoy an old family favorite, showing others that you can still have mashed potatoes and gravy and that a vegan holiday still means loads of candy and chocolate, helps to spread the word that vegan holiday fare doesn’t mean sacrifice and deprivation. Also, if you’re worried there will be limited food options for you, this ensures you aren’t ‘hangry’ at the party.

Avoid Arguments
Contrary to popular belief a family dinner is not the place for debating your Aunt Susan about the cruelty of animal agriculture. However, if someone provokes you and you find yourself having to say something at the holiday table, don’t stoop to their level and try to keep it simple. “Being vegan makes me feel great physically and mentally and I have a ton of new energy” is a safe and positive response. Try to keep the focus on the benefits for you.

But Know Your Vegan Facts
Arm yourself with useful facts about veganism for when you get the all-too-common “Where do you get your protein?” and “What about calcium?” questions. People may not be able to see veganism as an ideal lifestyle for them but it’s very hard to argue against facts.

And project confidence. All too often, especially if you’re recently vegan, it can be tempting to be apologetic for your choices. But if you stand firm and confident, which should be easy since you’re making a choice to help animals, people are less likely to try to mess with you.

Answer Their Questions
We all have our own unique reasons for going vegan and your friends and family are probably interested in the ‘why.’ When you get the question try and keep your answer personal yet simple. If the probe further then by all means expand.

Have a Sense of Humour
We’re all guilty of making fun of others. Whether we’re making fun of an aunt for her terribly outdated hairstyle or your friend’s obsession with a terrible TV show, we all make jokes about others’ choices. That is what they are doing to you. Now you may end up being the victim of a truly malicious joke but, generally speaking, they’re just trying to poke fun. Of course, this is just a guideline. Some people are too oblivious to deal with your veganism in an appropriate way.

Be Compassionate
FACT: almost everyone on this Earth grew up eating meat and other animal products. Very few people just randomly decide to make such a huge commitment, like going vegan, overnight. Some people may feel defensive around you because you’ve taken action and changed for the better, showing everyone around you that they are NOT doing it. And remember not everyone is there yet, and that is okay. You should allow them to arrive at their own time and pace.

Stay Positive
Going vegan is a way to challenge the status quo, to go against everything we’ve been told. It is about waking up to the realization that there’s an alternate way to exist on this planet without contributing to the killing of innocent living beings. So remember to stay positive, hold your head up high and share some of the vegan awesomeness!

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