posted November 8, 2022
Allow me to say at the outset that Halloween is my last hurrah of the year. Gads, I love it—spooks, haunts, creepy costumes, weird people all around—heaven!
Then follows two holidays American vegans put so much effort into navigating year-by-year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. So much meat at so many family gatherings. How do we vegans navigate all this?
I’ve been doing this long enough to share how vegans can get through our end-of-the-year holiday season with minimal pain—and even some ways to turn this season into teachable moments.
11 Ideas for Getting Through—and Loving—the Holidays
1. Cook What You Want, No Matter the Event
If you’re going to a traditional family event, bring a dish of your own. You may end up eating only that dish, so make it something you like, and make a lot of it.
2. Nibble Beforehand and Plan Not to Stay Long
Maybe eat the raw veggie plate and whatever you stuffed into your pockets, like Clif Bars, to sustain you, but don’t hang around.
Talk to your hosts beforehand and coordinate how you can integrate vegan foods alongside the other offerings. A vegan cheese plate or spread of decadent desserts will never be turned down!
4. Switch It up Entirely
Say to your family/friends, “Hey, how about we all do a picnic in the living room and I bring the entrée?”
5. Choose Your Own Adventure
Suggest a few new menu items of innovative vegan foods to provide to create a culinary adventure for your family.
Eat boatloads beforehand, hold your nose, don’t eat during the event, and celebrate your own way afterwards. People will notice your plate is empty. Shall we talk (gently) about why?
7. Plan Entertainment So Food Is Secondary
What do you like: Charades? Yahtzee? Pictionary?
8. Have Engaging Environmental Discussions
Bring recent news and scientific articles about climate change (even petrol companies now admit climate change is an indisputable fact) and talk about animal agriculture’s negative impact.
9. Engage Kids in a Game of Which Plant Is Tastiest?
Have the kids (and adults, too!) taste the pumpkin, the green beans, the potatoes, the Brussels sprouts, whatever plants there are (provided there’s no butter, etc.). Let them assess each plant’s qualities and decide which is Top Plant of the Year. Hand out prizes.
10. Declare It a Me-Day
Use the time to celebrate your own joys, and perhaps include loved ones/friends/spouse/etc. This is my annual favorite. Enjoy your gloriously vegan table with the people who enjoy it too.
My family got on board with our veganism to the extent that they are okay with us not being there for the annual November turkey torture. Hubby and I have been able to enjoy Thanksgiving as our Valentine’s Day, where we celebrate with a romantic dinner alone. We see our family in the days preceding or after.
11. Have a Separate Thanksgiving and Then an Incredible Christmas Spread
My family and I have done this for many years now. We all have our Thanksgiving separately, the way we want to, and then I create an incredible Christmas spread of gourmet vegan foods to offer my family with love. They are delighted to eat the foods I create—to the extent that Mom has taken to inviting even more friends over for the feast—and I have the pleasure knowing the food is 100% vegan and everyone gets to experience how delectable vegan food is, whether comfort food or something elaborate.
I take requests and make it a theme every year: Pizza Party, Indian, ‘50s Malt Shop, Latin American, etc. My family’s flexibility makes it so much fun to plan a new exciting menu each year!
Whatever way we all get through this time of year is the right way to do it. And Happy Holidays to everyone!
Stacey Anderson, PhD, MVLCE, is a professor in public health, voice actor, and happily hedonistic vegan home chef and cheesemaker. She is the owner of the dual-service business, The Vegan with the Voice, offering both vegan education/coaching for individuals or groups, and professional voiceover services with a socially conscious emphasis. She is delighted to recently narrate the heartfelt memoir of fellow Main Street Vegan Academy graduate, Sande Nosonowitz, Oblivious: A Vegan Memoir.
Stacey lives in beautiful Marin County, California with her wonderful husband, Mike, and little lovable monster, Jupiter, a rescue cat.