New to plant-based eating and worried about those uncomfortable conversations around the Thanksgiving dinner table? Take a deep breath because MamaSezz is here to help! Here are our top tips for navigating skeptical family members at the holidays.
The Full Story
What happens if your family isn’t 100% on board with your new plant-based lifestyle? Do you cancel your Thanksgiving plans and hunker in to watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles on repeat? While that may sound tempting, the truth is: you CAN enjoy the holidays while you’re plant-based even if you’ve got some unsupportive family members.
Here are some tips for navigating those not-so-easy conversations during your plant-based Thanksgiving:
1. Don’t get defensive
It can really take the wind out of your sails to have someone you care about question or even put down your choice to eat plant-based foods, especially when you’re feeling really positive about your plant-based experience. While it’s easy to react in anger, talk yourself off a ledge and calmly explain that you’re feeling great since transitioning to plant-based foods. Try not to take it personally. Most of us grew up eating the Standard American Diet and it can be super difficult to change not only our habits but our mindset. If your family member keeps pushing, offer to chat after dinner so you don’t get into the awkward situation of explaining how artery-clogging the Standard American Diet can be just as they bite into a big piece of gravy-smothered turkey leg.
2. Know your facts and share your story
If someone takes you up on that post-dinner chat, come with some knowledge to share. You don’t have to scare them (i.e. “YOU WILL DIE IF YOU DON’T SWITCH TO A PLANT-BASED DIET”) but instead focus on some of the research you’ve found supporting the benefits of eating this way, like lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, higher energy levels, and improved digestion.
And if you’re comfortable, give specific examples of how you’ve benefited from eating this way. Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling! Research shows a good story can change our beliefs, attitudes, and even behaviors. Explaining how you’ve conquered certain struggles — whether it’s weight gain, heart disease, high cholesterol — personalizes your plant-based experience and can help your family member relate. Plus, everyone likes a good hero’s journey!
They're still giving you the business? Remember it’s not your job to change this person’s eating habits or their mind. If things are getting hostile or the person is simply not letting it rest, go ahead and end the conversation. Reiterate that you’ve personally benefited from eating this way and you’re happy sticking with it. Then go back to the rest of the group because you don’t need any negativity in your life, especially over the holidays!
3. Ask for support
If you want something: ask! It can be extremely awkward (and even hurtful) if you have one person at the table who keeps pushing you to try their non-plant-based dish or seems particularly irritated by your food choices. When it comes to dishes you don’t want to try, you can respectfully decline their dish (“No thank you” on repeat) and if anyone gets upset at your lifestyle choice, remain calm, look them in the eye and explain you’re really trying to live a healthier life and you need your family to support you. While research shows it may take more than one time asking, chances are they’ll have your back in the end.
4. Share the plant-based love
Bring a plant-based dish to share. One common misconception about plant-based food is that it’s boring or even gross. How wrong they are, right?! Show the naysayers how good plant-based foods can taste and feel by bringing a healthy and flavorful plant-based dish that everyone can enjoy, like this No-Bake Plant-Based Pumpkin Pie or 5-Ingredient Mashed Potatoes. Not a cook? Get some plant-based holiday meals to your door, already cooked.
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MamaSezz is the leading whole food plant-based prepared meal delivery company in the U.S. We make it easier for you to be your healthiest self by delivering hearty, fresh, ready to eat whole food plant-based meals with no B.S. (you know, Bad Stuff) right to your door.
By Ali Brown
Ali is a nutrition and lifestyle writer and editor, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.