Throwback Tuesday

Since the blog site was down yesterday I didn’t get to publish my Meatless Monday post…so here it is on Throwback Tuesday 🙂

Surviving the holidays with family and friends can be a task for anyone, especially if your eating habits are non-traditional. The author of Choosing Raw  offers tips to help vegetarians and vegans alike, survive the holiday season.

1)      For the main meal (aka Turkey Day), bring a dish that suits your habits, be they vegetarian, vegan, generally health conscious, or raw. Make sure it’s a dish that’s palatable and appealing, and make enough for the table. Never assume that people won’t want to try it; if it’s good, they will! Share the dish with enthusiasm, and cross your fingers that your folks like it. If they do, you may just find them clamoring for more healthy options next year.

2)      Plan ahead. Thanksgiving isn’t just aboutTurkey time; oftentimes, it means a weekend of travel and staying with relatives, or simply hours spent away from home. Make sure to bring snacks that suit you in addition to your contribution to the main meal. I never make day trips or overnights without Larabars or Pure bars, apples or bananas, a bag of baby carrots, an avocado or two, bottled juices and coconut water, and some homemade raw trail mix.

3)      If you’ll be staying with relatives who don’t eat the way you do for the weekend, never ever hesitate to call ahead and make grocery requests. This may sound pushy, but it’s not; most of the time, non-vegans (or non-healthy eaters) are nervous about having a vegan or vegetarian in the house, and they’re actually hoping that someone will tell them what to have on hand and what to make. You’ll save your host dollars of wasted grocery money and needless stress if you very politely say, “Hey, by the way, I’m not sure if you know/remember, but I’m a vegan. I don’t want you to stress about feeding me! If you don’t mind factoring me into the grocery shopping, I’d be really happy to split the cost. And I could give you just a few things to have around that I love eating.”

Or, simply make a grocery trip on your way to the destination in question, and show up with tons of food that you can enjoy and share with the fam.

4)      Know your limits. All of us have dietary preferences that are non-negotiable, and ones that aren’t. Holidays are a good time to familiarize yourself with the difference. I know some people who eat mostly vegan, but are willing to make concessions if a side dish has a touch of butter or cream; I know vegetarians who eat a tiny slice of turkey on turkey day. I have mixed feelings about these concessions, but I’ll admit that I have a few of my own. I always bring an all raw dish to parties and holiday meals, but if there’s a cooked vegan dish (especially one that a family or friend made with me in mind), I’ll certainly give it a try. Best case scenario? It’s tasty and healthy. Worst? I give the person who made it some joy by tasting. As long as it’s vegan, I can live with the fact that it’s not raw. I’m also happy to throw food combining to the wind, if necessary, as long as what I eat is vegan and not too difficult to digest.

5)      If you’re dining out, plan ahead! Most restaurants will be packed to the gills and not happy about making unforeseen substitutions on turkey day. Make sure to call the restaurant at least a week in advance if you know you’ll want something that’s not on the Thanksgiving pre-fixe menu. Request something simple, like a plate of whichever veggies the chef already plans on serving, along with a small salad and a baked yam. Be firm, but try to work with the restaurant manager to find a hassle free option.

I have one final tip, and it is by far the most crucial:

Bring a good attitude to the table.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about raw and vegan dining at holidays or with family, it’s this: don’t arrive on the defensive. If you come to the dinner table tense, self-protective, and ready for an argument, you can be sure that an argument will find you. It won’t take long for family members—especially those that are wary of veganism in the first place—to sniff out your unease and challenge you. Yes, this is immature, and yes, they should refrain, but mark my words: it will happen. And when it does, you’re likely to become argumentative, self-righteous, or hurt.

The solution? Show up with an open mind. Regardless of whom you’re eating with and what their habits are, try to abandon any pre-conceived certainty that you’ll be called upon to defend your eating habits. Instead, assume that you’re going to enjoy a harmonious meal. Think to yourself: I love my lifestyle. I respect it. And anyone who sees how happy it makes me is going to respect it, too. Instead of preparing all sorts of retorts to snide comments—or worse, arming yourself with health statistics and studies to rattle off to anyone who challenges you—prepare enthusiastic and friendly comments. Some of my favorites:

“Why vegan? Well, compassion plays a big part. But I really love how wonderful and healthy eating vegan and raw makes me feel!”

“Oh, I know it sounds limiting, but it’s not! There are so many great things you can make with vegetables, legumes, grains, and fruits. I love being in my kitchen.”

“Miss things? No, not really! I’m so focused on how much I love plant based foods that I never think about some of the things I used to enjoy.”

“One bite of turkey? Seriously, no thanks. I’m really enjoying my [insert name of vegan main course here]. But thanks–hope it’s good.”

I hope this helps someone have a happier, stress free holiday!

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