Headed to someone else's holiday dinner can be a little nerve wracking if you're new to plant-based eating. Luckily, we've got our pro tips for being the absolute best plant-based guest you can be this holiday season (and enjoying yourself along the way).
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Plant-based guest 101
The holiday season is in full throttle and chances are your schedule is getting pretty busy between holiday parties, shopping, family traditions. If this is your first holiday season a plant-based eater, you may be a little nervous about the conversation turning to your plant-based nutrition choices. Navigating the rapid-fire questions from curious (and sometimes judgmental) friends and family can be a bit daunting. Not to mention, besides the carrots and hummus plate, what are you going to eat amidst the goat cheese appetizers and roasted chicken poppers?
Should you cancel plans, and hunker in? Heck no! We’ve got our top tips for enjoying the holiday season all the while being a fabulous plant-based guest.
Plant-Based Guest Tip #1: Be generous
It’s the season of giving, so why not bring something yummy and plant-based for everyone to share? Let your host know ahead of time that you’re coming, you’re eating a bit differently, but there’s no need for them to stress out about changing the menu. Be gracious and excited if they have any questions, and arrive with a positive attitude. Contributing to the menu will also lighten the load for your host, so it’s a win win! Some of our favorite whole food plant-based party dishes include this Broccoli Raisin Salad, these Mushroom Stuffed Tomatoes, and this WFPB Apple Crisp.
Pro Plant-Based Party Tip: make a recipe card so folks can take a picture for their recipe files when they fall in love with your delicious plant-based dish.
Plant-Based Guest Tip #2: Be knowledgeable
Let’s get real: people will have some questions if this is the first time they’re learning of your plant-based lifestyle. The good news is, the more educated you are, the easier these conversations will become. Most of the time people are just curious! Come prepared to discuss what a whole food plant-based diet is and why you’re switching to this lifestyle.
When you’re well-versed in the subject, you can share your passion and excitement with party guests without being overbearing. A rule of thumb is to lead by example. Tell people about how awesome you feel...without focusing on “forbidden” foods. This keeps things light (it’s a party, after all!) and you won’t be lecturing or in the position of debating your keto family member. If you face serious controversy or peer pressure from others at the party, stand your ground and make sure to focus on the bigger picture. Politely refer some of your favorite books and move on to a new conversation with another guest.
Remember to stick to "I" statements if things get tricky: "I feel so much better, my blood pressure is down, I've been getting amazing sleep, and my doctor said my bloodwork is better than it has been in years!"
Who's gonna argue with that?
Most of the time, please are just excited to share their knowledge about nutrition, their dietary experiences, or learn more about your decision to ditch animal products.
You've got this!
Pro Plant-Based Party Tip: If you are unable to bring a dish and you’re at a party with mostly animal products, look to stack your plate with smaller bites. Check for guacamole and salsa, veggies and hummus, Stack up your plate with every veggie available. Laugh about how much food you can eat.
Plant-Based Guest Tip #3: Be Kind
Good manners never get old. Remember people are attracted to positivity, joy, and kindness. If at any point you feel that the diet-related conversations are dominating your time, just change the topic! You are more than the food you put in your body so start talking about another one of your passions or ask somebody else a question relating to them. After the party is done, put a little flare in your appreciation with a hand-written thank you note. It only takes a few minutes to write and send — plus, your host/hostess will be delighted. This is a great gesture for more than formal occasions, try it after your next party!
Pro Plant-Based Party Tip: Use note cards made from eco-friendly recycled paper, like these from Jack and Della Paper.
Q & A: How to respond to common questions about a plant-based diet:
Q: Where do you get your protein?
A: Great question, it's actually quite a common one. Plants are loaded with protein! Luckily, It's almost impossible to be protein deficient, unless you are physically starving. I eat plenty, so there is no need for me to worry or track protein.
A: Where does your protein get its protein? Most likely grass and grains! I'm just cutting out the middle man. Gorillas and oxen are vegan too, and look how strong.
Q: I could never give up bacon! How do you do it?
A: No denying that bacon is delicious! Although it's temping, my health is more important to me than any flavor could be. Because of my current health issues, it's a no-brainer for me, personally.
A: If I thought I'd not be able to go plant based because of bacon, I'd simply be plant based with the exception of bacon! Luckily, it's not all or nothing. For now though, I don't feel the need to include it in my diet.
Q: I hope you're taking supplement. Which ones do you take?
A: Luckily, the only recommended supplement for vegans is B12. It's a bacteria found in soil, so if I ate fresh from the garden I'd be all set. Animals get their B12 from supplements, and eating grass and roots.
A: A plant-based diet is incredibly nutrient rich. Supplements were invented because people stopped eating kale, berries and whole grains and started eating chicken nuggets, white bread and TV dinners. Some vegans supplement with B12. It's exciting not having to track macros and nutrients!
Thriving with your plant-based diet during the holiday season is easy if you stick to the basics and do like your MamaSezz:
- Bring a little gift
- Laugh often
- Say thank you!