'Tis the season for good food, good company, and good cheer...but if you're worried your plant-based lifestyle might put a cramp on all the merry-making this holiday season, we get it. Change can be scary, especially when it comes to family and cultural traditions. The good news, you can thrive this holiday season on plants...and you don't have to have a major case of FOMO at the dinner table OR endure any food-related family drama. Here's how...
Plant-Based Holidays Survival Guide
Your Vegan Holiday Concern: I won't have anything to eat
Going to a party where none of the food is an option for you can really take the wind out of your holiday spirit sails. But don't cancel your plans just yet...
Solution: Give a holiday favorite a plant-based makeover (and bring plenty to share!)
Yes, a lot of holiday goodies and classic dishes are not exactly vegan-friendly, but you have options! And the best option, in our humble opinion, is to come packing snacks and bring enough to share. Sometimes, folks have a rather outdated idea of plant-based eating (read: they think it's rabbit food!). Here is your chance to share the plant-based love AND enjoy the holiday season by making a delicious and festive vegan dish for all. Bonus: the host will most likely be thrilled you brought a dish!
Need some vegan holiday recipe inspo? Here are some of our favorite and easy whole food plant-based holiday recipes that the omnivores in your life will appreciate, too.
Your Concern: My family won't get my vegan diet at all
Another holiday mood killer? A snarky comment from a family member about the way you eat. And while we can't guarantee that won't happen, it doesn't have to put a damper on your holiday, we promise.
Solution: Be willing to share your story and set boundaries if needed
Often times, when our friends and family are resistant to a change we're making, it's a reflection of their own insecurities. And food (and holiday food, especially) is a touchy subject for people, as we associate it with so much more than just eating but about family traditions, culture, insecurities, etc. The first step to enjoying your holidays, even if your family's not super cool about your vegan diet, is to understand that it's not really about you or what you eat (or don't eat).
Second, may we suggest telling your story? Humans love a good tale and it helps us understand the world around us and each other. Did you change your diet to help with a specific health problem, for weight loss, to reverse lifelong unhealthy eating habits, for a better quality of life? Help your loved one better see where you’re coming from and get specific. Share the “why” behind your transition to whole food plant-based lifestyle.
You can also share the challenges you’ve encountered along the way — giving up sugar, making time to meal prep, ordering at restaurants — to show them that getting healthier isn’t all roses. There are real hurdles in your way and the more you let them see of those hurdles, the more they may be able to understand why you need their support. (Plus, here's how to directly ask for support!)
That said, if someone is just straight up giving you the business about it, set clear boundaries. You do not need to put up with negativity! (And it probably goes without saying but we'll say it just in case, this is a two-way street; don't shame your omnivore friends and family for their food choices, either!)
Your Concern: I'm the only vegan and I'm hosting
Love to host at the holidays but not sure how to do it without meat? While it can feel overwhelming, it doesn't have to be...
Solution: Make it a potluck or simply explain it'll be a plant-based affair this year
Our biggest piece of advice for the newly plant-based host: DELEGATE! If you are only comfortable preparing plant-based dishes but think your guests would want more tradition omnivorous options, let them bring 'em! Simply make it a potluck, ask your guests to bring their fave, and prepare enough simple plant-based dishes to share. (Focusing on finger foods and apps will make it easier on you!)
Really don't want animal products in the house? That's OK, too! Kindly state this a plant-based affair and then dazzle your guests with these healthy vegan holiday recipes.
Bonus no-stress solution: Let MamaSezz make and deliver healthy whole food vegan holiday meals for you!
Your Concern: I won't be able to resist the temptation of Christmas cookies, cheese plates, etc.
The holidays can be tricky when you're trying to break free from unhealthy eating habits. Suddenly, treats are aplenty, from the office to your friend's house, and many of your favorite holiday traditions may involve foods that don't really fall under the "plant-based" umbrella. But fret not...
Solution: Make plant-based treats and/or if you slip into familiar habits, give your some grace!
If sweet treats are your Achilles' heel, know this: you can have your Christmas cookies and eat them, too on a plant-based diet! Whip up some of these veganized cookie recipes.
Trying to your kiddos on the plant-based train but they're not ready to give up holiday treats, either? These kid-approved holiday recipes to the rescue – and they're all secretly healthy :)
Prefer to indulge in more savory holiday snacks? There are healthy plant-based versions of those, too! Try:
- Vegan cabbage rolls from Minimalist Baker
- Vegan French onion dip from Veggie Inspired
- Herbed vegan cheese from MamaSezz
And if temptation gets the best of you, that's OK! Please, please, please give yourself some grace and don't let it rob you of the joy of the season. And if you want to get back into healthier habits once the holidays are over, MamaSezz is always here to help you reboot.
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.