Holidays are about love and joy and giving. (But let’s be realistic here) they’re also about planning and preparation and food. Families gather and break (pita) bread, tell stories from the year past, and celebrate. And for those of you with a more Type A Personality Family, it’s more about what time are we meeting everyone, what should we bring, and how long do we have to stay once the conversation turns political? Finding a happy medium can be key to having a successful and happy holiday. Every family is different (let’s be real here, every person in every family is different) but coming together to share a nice heaping bowl of quinoa and tofurkey can be very rewarding…
But what if you’re not hosting the Thanksgiving feast and the safety that you feel within your own kitchen is thrown to the wind and the control you have over what’s going to be served for dinner has effectively been flushed down the toilet? Here’s where it can get tricky.
Having been a meat eater at the last holiday dinner I attended at my boyfriend’s family’s house, I knew that I would need to brace myself for an interesting transitional point. I decided that introducing them to the reality of my veganism should be done months in advance. It came up casually while we were all out to dinner for an occasion sometime in September. An interested aunt had noticed that I had ordered a salad and asked the waitress to please hold the meat and cheese. Once had asked for oil and vinegar as my dressing, the conversation kind of flowed right from there. It was a very non-confrontational discussion where people were mainly curious about the reasons (in a non-aggressive manner) and kindly contributed what they believed to be basic dietary requirements. This, thankfully, was the perfect introduction to my new lifestyle; and so the seed was planted.
Then there was the official acceptance of the invitation (months later) that we were going to Thanksgiving dinner at their house. I’m not sure that they remembered that I would be eating differently from years past, but I was sure to remind them (indirectly and through other family members- not by choice but by happenstance) just in case they remembered suddenly and they thought that it was their responsibility to make sure I had something to eat at their dinner table. The last thing I want to do is show up and make veganism look unappealing by not enjoying a meal alongside everyone else.
I’m assuming there are going to be a lot of questions regarding my choices since I’ll be seeing some of his cousins for the first time since my transition. I’m going to use this time right before the holidays to brush up on some of the most FAQs and re-read the Vegan Society’s guide to Plant Based Nutrition so I’m ready to present my position in a way that is not offensive to anyone else that may be sitting directly beside me eating meat and/or dairy. I will also do my best to avoid conversation about food while everyone is still at the dinner table. Many books will tell you to avoid the conversation while eating if at all possible (or at least leave out the gory details) and say vague things like “I’m a vegan for moral reasons and the health benefits have been awesome!” And then if someone wants to explore my choices further after the meal, I’ll be more than happy to talk about my choices. I’m going to maintain an upbeat attitude and make sure I have my nutritional facts in order. Arm myself with knowledge some would say.
I’m fortunate enough to be traveling along with 2 vegetarians to the feast anyway. Overall, this should make for a pretty interesting dinner but I couldn’t be more excited to see how it goes! Gobble on Mr. Turkey! It’s vegan 2 “cheese” lasagna, Portobello risotto, and pumpkin pie galore for these veg heads!
Curious about hosting your own cruelty-free Thanksgiving? Check out Veg News for 3 Simple Timelines for a Stress-Free Vegan Thanksgiving.
As for tonight, friends are coming over to celebrate a little early Thanksgiving celebration complete with Trader Joe’s brand stuffed tofurkey and gravy which is thankfully vegan-friendly along with some baked sweet potatoes and pan-seared asparagus. Keep your eyes on the recipe section over the course of the next week- I promise you won’t be unhappy with the additions!