How to Survive Thanksgiving as a Vegan and Stay Sane
Having been vegetarian/vegan for only two months now, this will be my official Thanksgiving as a vegan. To say the least, it’s very daunting. My family and in laws live in Texas, which we all know is BBQ country. Vegans and vegetarians alike are frowned upon there and I am extremely nervous about having to defend myself to family whom I know will harass me about my dietary preferences. So I’ve etched out a game plan in dealing with this meat eaters’ holiday.
Bring a Vegan Side Dish
This one is probably obvious especially if it’s traditional in your family for everyone to bring a Thanksgiving dish. So make yours vegan. There are plenty of hearty vegan dishes that everyone will love. Personally, I am bringing vegan macaroni and cheese using this recipe. You could bring mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, just to name a few. Pinterest is loaded with vegan dish ideas, so spend some time surfing recipes there. Make sure to prepare a bunch of it, that way you can have a sizable portion in case none of the other dishes are vegan.
On that same note, you may want to pack a bunch of vegan easy-to-eat foods in case you’re spending more than just Thursday with the family. Having meals already made will make your life easier in figuring out what to eat.
Brace Yourself for the Inevitable Debates
I sincerely hope you don’t have someone in your family who will criticize you or try to prove your lifestyle wrong, but unfortunately, there is usually one. You need to make the decision before you go, on whether or not you want to engage in these debates. If so, then be prepared. Study up on common omni debate points and their rebuttals. Remember not to attack anyone and to provide the facts in a logical way. Will you convert them? Probably not, but if you are educated and can stump their criticisms, they might just leave you alone. Might.
If you choose not to engage in the debates (which is what I recommend), prepare a short sentence for if someone criticizes your lifestyle. It’s good to have for those who don’t or may not understand the lifestyle (like my uber religious in-laws). Something simple and to the point is all you need. “I’ve put a lot of research into veganism and have decided this lifestyle is right for me. If it’s not for you, that’s okay, but I’d like to keep dinner topics light-hearted and away from my lifestyle choices.”
Don’t Be Ashamed to Go Veggie/Omni During the Holiday
I may get a lot of flack for this from other vegans, but I truly believe you come first before the animals. If the holiday is stressing you out and you’re experiencing unnecessary anxiety over food, then don’t feel bad about eating veggie/omni for the holiday. You’re mental sanity is more important than the food that goes into your body for a few days. If you have family that you know will give you a hard time and you don’t want to deal with it, that’s fine. It doesn’t make you a lesser person. You are already doing so much good for the environment and for animal welfare 300+ days of the year. Don’t let one holiday take away from that fact.
With these three tips, you’ll be set for the holiday. Don’t engage in rude remarks pertaining to veganism, but do answer sincere questions. Remember that Thanksgiving is not your time to advocate for veganism. It’s too late to save any turkeys and you can easily sour the mood. So enjoy the time with your family and try not to worry too much about being vegan and what they think of you.
Happy Thanksgiving! I’ll see you next Wednesday!