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A How-To Guide for Surviving your First Vegan Christmas

by Laura Barns

8min read

Any occasion that involves family and food can feel like a minefield for the new or transitioning vegan. And Christmas involves a whole lot of family, and a whole lot of food. Coming from traditionally-British and Irish roots, it’s safe to say that when I went vegan four years ago, my family weren’t quite on board. Because ‘a meal isn’t a meal without meat’, and ‘Christmas without turkey?!’ Forget it. So here’s a guide to getting through the holidays without losing your mind (or upsetting your mum).

How to: handle your nan asking every five minutes if you're sure you don't want some ham

Ahh nans. They really are great. They’re always on hand with a tissue, a humbug and a hug. Though unfortunately, if my own nan is anything to go by, they’re also always on hand with lamb chops/fried eggs/lard etc. (and my nan was a twin, so imagine that but doubled… and scarily identical). I always told myself that our grandparents are from a different generation, and that although I don’t agree with them on this, I quietly remind myself I ate everything they cooked for me throughout my entire childhood and there wasn’t a soybean in sight...

How to: slyly check your mum hasn't sneaked some butter into the potatoes

First of all, please tell me I’m not the only one whose mum does this. Second of all, remember it comes from a place of love. (For you, and for butter). Especially you, new vegan, you’ll understand just how hard habits are to break. So it’s worth cutting our parents a bit of slack on occasion. Though if you’re worried, offer to help. You’ll earn brownie points with your family, AND you can keep an eye on wayward ingredients. Winning.

How to: deal with general anti-vegan chat

Ok, so the whole ‘but where do you get your protein from’/‘don’t you miss cheese’/’are you sure you’re not anaemic’ chat gets old pretty quickly. Especially when you’re used to hearing it all the time. And whilst we can’t stop the inevitable from happening, we can hopefully arm you with a bit of help to avoid a family-Monopoly-game-style meltdown.

  • Have a few fast facts up your sleeve - you might find yourself being accused of deficiency in protein/calcium/iron/B12/vitamin D/life, so it won’t hurt to silence the critics (at least during the main course) with some stats. Here are a few of our favourite big health hitters:
  1. Eating a plant-based diet can cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by almost a quarter 
  2. A vegan diet eases the symptoms of arthritis-sufferers and can help to prevent obesity 
  3. The highest rates of osteoporosis are found in countries where people consume the most dairy
  4. Studies show that those who eat meat and fish are more than twice as likely to develop dementia
  • Keep your cool - there’s no point fuelling the grumpy vegan stereotype, though we’ve all been tempted from time to time. When it gets tough, remember why you made your decision, and let others just go with theirs.
  • Don’t be afraid to change the subject - your ‘vegan card’ doesn’t get taken away from you if you don’t automatically engage in every debate you’re invited to. In fact, it’s sometimes one of the only ways to stay sane and keep the peace. Smile, nod, move on, (and top up your prosecco). It’s worth pointing out here that vodka is vegan. We also rounded up our favourite other plant-based drinks here. Thank us later. 

How to: cope when all there is to eat is falafel and hummus*

*To be honest, that doesn’t sound horrendous. But after a few days, you might start to resemble a chickpea. 

At risk of sounding like a scoutmaster, it’s a good idea to go prepared to Christmas events that involve food. One year, I even ordered an online shop to be delivered to my parents’ house which arrived the day I got there. (That was a very good year). We can also help keep freezers stocked up full of the good stuff. Check out our menu and place your order as late as Christmas Eve, for guaranteed delivery when the nut roast has run out, and guaranteed good times. 

By Laura, Copywriter at allplants 

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