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Vegan for the holidays....


Cultural traditions bind people together. We gather with friends and family to celebrate, to grieve, for comfort and for strength. The common denominator of most traditions is the sharing of food.

The fear of breaking those traditions or finding oneself on the "outside" of them can be a major point of apprehension for those making changes in their diet and lifestyle. We worry: what will people think or say? Will I be a burden? Will people make fun of me? Will I be shunned for being different? These are all valid concerns! So what to do?

It's inevitable that as soon as someone in your circle knows you've gone vegan you'll be barraged with either questions or commentary. Take a deep breath! In our experience, it's best not to get into long-winded discussion or--god forbid--arguments when introducing people to your new cruelty-free existence. However, it is helpful to be armed with a few facts! Visit CWI's site or our friends at Between those two sites, you'll be armed with everything you need to know to gently explain why you aren't eating turkey to Aunt Melanie. (Pro tip: don't have these conversations actually AT the dinner table.)

It's also OK not to know much and simply to share that you're still learning, but feel great about your choice and the food is fantastic! And it's also totally acceptable to quickly change the subject!

If you are visiting relatives over a holiday, one way to avoid any awkwardness is by offering to bring a dish or two to share. Bringing your own alleviates any stress on your host and gives you the opportunity to show off how amazing and delicious cruelty-free foods are!

Nowadays there are a wealth of recipes available online. A few sites we like are: Rabbit & Wolves, Domestic Gothess (also handy if you are in the UK as she has "veganized" many popular British recipes), Nora Cooks, Vegan Yack Attack, Vegan Richa, Olives for Dinner, and Mississippi Vegan. But there are hundreds of others!

If bringing something isn't an option, perhaps offering to be involved in the cooking is. Many common family recipes are easily "veganized" by making some simple swaps: butter, milk, egg, cheese and most other products have wonderful compassionate options that are becoming widely available in local grocery stores.

The reality is--there are some people who seem to never be able adapt to any kind of change at all even if the change has nothing at all to do with them. New vegans are often enthusiastic by the barrage of new information and feelings.

It is inspiring to be "woken up" to the realities of animal suffering and to know you CAN do something about it! That enthusiasm can bubble over and create awkwardness with family and friends where there needn't be any.

Remember: before the switch flicked on, you ate the same things they did, and they might not be ready to make the change themselves, and they may never be. Lead with kindness, compassion, and by example: more often than not, at least someone in your family will be inspired and join you!



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