Being veg over the holidays

Just say No!Politely declining a slice of Auntie Bertha’s fruitcake over the holiday season is to be expected. But how do you “politely” justify turning down your mother-in-law’s pot roast or her home-made butter cookies?

Let’s be honest, it’s all about food for the holidays. It’s that time of year more than any that you find being veg is not so easy. And I’m not talking about cravings for the unsavoury foodstuffs. I am addressing the bewildered faces and sighs of incomprehension when you make clear that you will not be eating any animals or animal products for the season (much in line with your eating habits every other day of the year). Some people believe that just because it is the holidays, you should try to at least fit in and relax your anti-social eating tendencies just to make others happy. The question is, do we relax any of our other ethics during the holiday season? Why should you consume animal products only to appease a group of people whom–though you probably love–don’t understand you fully? You need not be a militant activist vegan to just say no to the bombardment of animal food options. We’re all pressured either by others or our own traditional upbringing or tastes to indulge on something we normally wouldn’t, but perhaps from experience you’ll learn that you don’t ever feel better after doing it. The problem is how to not come across as the weird one who has joined some hippie cult and is only at the party to make others feel bad about themselves. So what do you do?

My advice? Just say no, thank you. Be polite, but firm when you are presented with food you don’t eat. If you were allergic, it might be easier to say no, but as it stands, allergies generally are treated with more respect and understanding than not eating certain food items for the sake of veganism. I can’t recommend whether or not you should elaborate on your reasons behind saying no. You may be prompted or questioned in some way which gives you no choice, but nothing is stopping you from putting a smile on your face and saying, “Let’s just leave it there. I’m happy that I am able to eat what I want without feeling scrutinised by others”. People need to learn to let you live your life without feeling threatened. If you are comfortable enough going to a holiday dinner where they serve meat and where many people will be eating it in front of you, then you should be confident that others should also feel comfortable with you declining those options at the dinner table.

For those of you who are surrounded by vegans and vegetarians for the holidays, count yourselves among the lucky few. But if you’re like me and find it hard to resist the disapproval of your family and friends during this time of the year just because you won’t eat their food, keep in mind that you’re not alone. Stick to your morals, avoid confrontation and debate, and remind your family/friends that in the spirit of the season, you are thankful that you can be together, sharing this moment, and respecting everyone’s personal wishes wholly.

Happy Holidays! (for more posts by joe vegan)

3 thoughts on “Being veg over the holidays”

  1. I am happily hosting my 2nd annual holiday party for my fellow animal rights activists, with vegan potluck fare for all. I am happily not spending Christmas with my parents, who have burned all their bridges with me due to interference with my parenting as it relates to vegetarianism and animal activism – sending my son anti-soy emails without my knowledge, telling him he will have delayed puberty if he eats soy, then happily serving him a hamburger, then not telling me about it until I find out accidentally months later that they have been serving him meat all this time – I know ultimately it’s his choice, but giving him misinformation is wrong, as is encouraging deceitful behaviour – also criticizing me for engaging in various protests and saying that I am putting my son in danger for participating in demonstrations. It’s all hard to take from someone who is himself morbidly obese, who has had a heart attack, and who relies on heart medication every single day.

    I will finally be able to have a relaxing day without having to explain and defend myself, without having to be singled out, without having to feel put down. Yay!

  2. Things have actually gotten a lot better in my family over the last decade. Since my sis and her husband and son went veg, my mom has been making most of our holiday meals vegan. I have a huge and entirely omnivorous extended family on my dad’s side, but when they get on my case, it’s usually good-natured , and I just retort with something about how they’re just ignorant old dinosaurs who enlightened youngsters such as myself will humour since they’re soon to succumb to the tar pits of age anyway. They’re a bit of a twisted lot and tend to find those sorts of remarks very funny….so then we all have a good laugh and that’s about it. But there was definitely a time when my veganism made family gatherings very uncomfortable…

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