Top Five Tips on Navigating Christmas as a Vegan

Christmas is a magical time of the year when many people come together to celebrate and indulge in delectable meals and treats. Yet with meat typically served at most Christmas meals, life can be tricky for vegans. Don’t worry, help is at hand!

Veganism is one of the fastest-growing lifestyle movements of our age and will find its way into more homes this year than ever before, but if you find yourself in the position of being the only vegan at the dinner table or gathering this season, have no fear and do not feel overwhelmed. Here are a few tips on navigating and enjoying Christmas as a vegan!

1. Why Not Host Christmas This Year?

If you have the time, opportunity and cooking skills, why not plan and execute a Christmas feast for your loved ones this year?

Start with some tasty appetisers. Swap the turkey for a nut roast or whole roasted cauliflower (yes, this is a thing!). Add some mouthwatering side dishes like spiced Brussels sprouts, coconut and turmeric roast potatoes, bright salads and roasted mixed vegetables. Then finish things off with a spectacular vegan Christmas pudding or chocolate truffles.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be anything too complicated, but you can still make a big impression with a thoughtfully chosen menu.

2. Show Off Your Skills and Contribute a Vegan Dish!

If you are invited to a meal where the vegan choices may be limited, why not offer to bring a tasty vegan-friendly dish or two along?

Not only does it guarantee that you will have something to eat, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to show your friends and family how delicious and satisfying plant-based meals can be.

It’s also a fun way of getting a friendly conversation about veganism started and chances are that everyone will want to try what you bring, so make sure you take enough.

3. Be Sure to Inform Hosts in Advance

If you are all set to attend a non-vegan Christmas meal, be sure to inform your host in advance to avoid any awkward moments or having to explain your dietary requirements when you arrive.

A gracious host will ensure that there is something for you at the table and you may even be able to suggest ways that they can veganise certain dishes. When in doubt, contribute a dish that you will be able to enjoy as well, or eat in advance so that you are not too hungry when you arrive.

4. Brush Up On Your Vegan Knowledge

Questions about your lifestyle are likely to come up and this is a great opportunity to share your thoughts on how plant-based eating is a compassionate way to care for our animal friends, our health and the environment.

Try to remain patient (even in the face of incredulity or attack) and avoid heated debates, lectures or graphic descriptions of industrial farming around the dinner table. Focus instead on all the beautiful, positive aspects of being vegan. Keeping calm and setting discussion boundaries is a great way of ensuring that you enjoy the occasion as much as possible.

5. Remember Christmas is a Time for Giving!

If you are fortunate enough to spend Christmas with loved ones this year, it is important to remember those who are not in the same privileged position.

Giving back can involve anything from donating your time and energy to helping out at a food bank, donating plant-based meals to shelters, volunteering to cook at your church, and lots more. Let’s use this time as an opportunity to spread the most important aspects of our faith and lifestyle—love and compassion.

This post originally appeared on the Sarx website and is reprinted here with kind permission. Sarx was founded on the belief that creation is the very outpouring of God’s love and their aim is to respond and witness to this divine love by encouraging Christians to strive towards a world in which all animals are enabled to live with dignity, in freedom and in peace. For more vegan recipe and lifestyle inspiration, visit www.vegannigerian.com.

Veg Christian Thanksgiving Survival Guide

by Sarah Withrow King

This Thanksgiving, in houses all across the United States, a lone vegetarian or vegan will enter with trepidation into the experience of Thanksgiving with meat-eaters. In some cases, she’ll be a nine-year-old who has decided eating animals is incompatible with her desire to be a veterinarian when she grows up. In another, a retiree will have given up meat, dairy, and eggs to reduce his risk of high blood pressure and bring his cholesterol back into a healthy range. This pastor’s son learned about the environmental damage of animal agriculture. This missionary kid wants to avoid contributing to global hunger and knows that plant-based foods require fewer resources to produce.

fighting siblings

The smell of cooking animal fat will permeate the air while families bow their heads to give thanks. Plates of flesh will be passed. In some lucky cases, the plant-based eater will be able to feast. In others, she’ll cobble together a meal of dry rolls, salad, and whatever dish she’s brought along to share.

Some of us face this day with dread. Some of us are genuinely happy, no matter what’s on the table. Some of us decide to skip the whole thing altogether.

This survival guide is for those of us who are willing to enter the fray, who might have considered skipping out on together-time, but instead choose to gird our vegan loins and face what comes.

  1. Offer to Help the Host. People who are hosting may be reluctant to ask for help, they may think that asking for assistance makes them a bad host. Assure them that you are eager to help. Send them this guide.

  2. Start a New Tradition. Bring vegetarian enchiladas to your family gathering, or some other distinctive dish. A little odd, a lot memorable, and very delicious, this simple act could become part of your family’s tradition.

  3. Plan a Vegan Feast. Maybe you can’t get out of going to Aunt Josephine’s on Thursday, but perhaps you can gather some friends for a plant-based day-after celebration. My husband and I used to invite small group and work friends over to our house for a party sometimes the day or two after a major holiday. It gave us a chance to share our favorite recipes, allowed us the opportunity to extend hospitality to others without family in the area, and gave us something to look forward to if we were also attending a less animal-friendly, more stressful event.

  4. Prepare for “The Question.” If you’re the only vegan, someone will inevitably ask you why you don’t eat animals. They will probably be holding the leg of a turkey when they do this. Decide in advance whether you want to go into details at the dinner table. I like to say something like, “I went vegan when I learned about what happens to animals used for food. Can we talk more about it later? I’d love to tell you the story while we do the dishes/go for a walk.”

  5. Take Deep Breathes and Center on Jesus and the Community, Not the Food. In any kind of stressful situation, centering prayer is a life-saver. I take a deep breathe in and say something like, “Come Lord Jesus.” Then I let the breathe out and say, “Be my guide.” I try to imagine my heart softening, let my shoulders relax, unclench my jaw. Our best chance at reducing suffering will come if we are able to communicate with compassion, grace, gratitude, and warmth. We may not be able to produce that on our own...so ask for help.

  6. Visit a Sanctuary or Connect with Creation. You might live near a farmed animal sanctuary. If you can, go visit and connect with living animals. If you can’t, plan to take a long walk outside. Listen for birds. Watch squirrells. Feel the rain or breeze on your face. Give yourself permission to lament, to release your pain, even to rage at God. God can take it.

One final note. There’s a difference between putting up with good-natured ribbing and out-and-out abuse. There’s a difference between unintentioned callousness and mean-spirited attacks. If you need to pull away from dangerous people, that’s okay. Perhaps there’s a vegan or vegetarian meet-up in your area; maybe you can volunteer to take the holiday shift so someone else can spend time with their family; or this could be the year that you make a fabulous meal for one and watch your favorite movies in your pajamas while you snuggle with your dog.

However you choose to celebrate, know that you are beloved and that you are a part of great cosmic movement of creation, reconciling to the Creator.