How does your family act at the annual Christmas lunch?
Do they accept your choice to be vegan with loving arms, and happily prepare vegan options for you? Do they let you bring a few meals of your own? Or do they shun your lifestyle choice, make fun of you and try to get you to eat some Christmas ham?
I'm fortunate enough to not have experienced the latter problem - but from what I've heard, a lot of vegans have. And it's not okay. Nobody should have to suffer through ridicule and rejection because of an important lifestyle choice they've made. Now, many families are accepting and accommodating, which is totally awesome. It's great when families are willing to learn about how delicious vegan food is and how easy it is to prepare. But some people just aren't so lucky!
And so, to help you have the very best vegan Christmas you can, or whichever holiday you celebrate, and to help you avoid feeling completely out of place and unaccepted, here are some tips.
Educate your family and friends about what veganism actually is
This seems so simple, but it's super important. If you're a part of a family of gift-givers, you won't want your family members spending money on presents for you that aren't vegan. A lot of people just don't understand what veganism actually is. They get the vegetarian part - no meat - but some people aren't aware of the problems with milk, eggs, wool, silk, leather, etc. A good idea would be to bring up a discussion about Christmas presents and politely ask the family member if they're having any trouble finding vegan gifts. Be helpful, and let them know that you'd appreciate a gift that doesn't contain any animal products, and explain what this includes. It's important to be as friendly and polite as possible if you don't want to stir up trouble, because some people feel uncomfortable when talking about veganism. It's a guilt thing, I think.
Bring some plates of vegan food
Again, this is a simple tip, but one of the most important. If you want your family members to experience the awesomeness of vegan food and realise how delicious it can be - the best way is to show them! Cook up the tastiest vegan Christmas food you can muster, and offer it to your family and friends. Try not to make a big deal about it being vegan at first, because this can turn people off. Wait until they've tried it, then shock them with the news!
"If you're not a fantastic chef, consider ordering some vegan catering to bring along, or buy something from the store."
Eat what your family is eating
Of course, this doesn't mean you have to eat real Christmas ham, or turkey, or whatever else your non-vegan family is eating - just have a vegan version! For most people, Christmas is about bringing everyone together. Eating a meal together is a huge part of this. So if your meal is totally different to what everyone else is having, you might feel a bit out of place, and your family might think that vegan food is really weird and different. If you make a vegan version of what they're having, they'll realise that vegan food can be just as good as what they eat, and you won't feel like an outcast. If your family's having Christmas turkey with gravy and roast veggies, bring some tofurkey and vegan gravy along - or, if you're not interested in mock meat, a big plate of roast veggies can be just as good.
If all else fails, celebrate Christmas elsewhere
Christmas is usually a family affair, and spending time with your family is important. But when your family is unaccepting of your lifestyle, ridicules you, and often makes you feel uncomfortable, you don't owe them Christmas day. You shouldn't feel guilty for not wanting to spend time with people who are rude to you. Go out and enjoy Christmas by yourself, or with some friends, or with your pets - choose people who are accepting and loving, people who want everyone to enjoy Christmas, regardless of their lifestyle choices. If there's no one else to spend Christmas with - why not cuddle up at home with some blankets, a big bowl of roast vegetables, and watch Christmas movies? Or head our for dinner with your friends, or cook for your pets, or chat with other vegans online who may be in the same situation as you. You, like everyone else, have the right to an enjoyable and stress-free holiday season!
If you're wondering about how your veganism will affect your Christmas or other holiday celebrations, I hope these tips have helped you. I hope you all have a fantastic holiday and a wonderful new year!