How to Survive the Festive Season As a Vegan

Tips and tricks for a plant-based holiday season

 The festive season is filled with family, friends, rest, joy and, if you’re doing it right, incredible food. If you’re like me you’ll associate this time of year with gathering around a table with your loved ones, and our food traditions and customs  never seem more relevant than they do the festive season. For most of us, this likely includes one or more type of glorious meat roast or delicious dairy-heavy puddings.

That said, times change and our preferences might not be what they were a year or two ago. Personally, I’ve adopted a more flexitarian diet recently and have been exploring the world of plant-based eating both for sustainability sake and to start eating healthier. While I’m not opposed to indulging in some non-vegan goodies this holiday season, my recent eating habits have made me wonder what challenges the festive season might have for full-time plant-based diners. Here are some tips and tricks I think might help you over the holiday period:

If you’re hosting remember to accommodate everyone

Hosting is about accommodating others and their needs but if you’re uncomfortable with cooking meat or non-vegan dishes make sure you’ve communicated that to your guests. People coming to your home to celebrate the festive season might not be plant-based and will likely have their own dishes they want to enjoy. Ensure that you either communicate ahead of time to tell them to bring a dish along that they will prefer or ensure you have options available for them.

If you’re a guest bring your own dish to dinner and make it one everyone will enjoy

If you’re a guest at a festive season meal or party and you’re fairly sure your host won’t know how to cater for your plant-based preferences, it’s probably better just to bring your own dish along. Sharing is caring so try to make it one that others will want to tuck in to as well and it can help break the ice if they haven’t been exposed to plant-based food before. Vegan desserts are usually the most rare in these situations so why not mix it up with my vegan baklava recipe.

Make sure they include you in the office party

Love them or hate them, there’s no need to fear the end of year work party. If your end of year staff party is going out for a meal, make sure the organisers are aware of your diet preferences. Luckily most establishments have plant-based options on the menu these days so your options are much more diverse than a few years ago, but it’s still best to ensure your team can accommodate you before you end up as the one with a bowl of rice for dinner.

Stock up on plant-based pantry essentials

No one wants to stand in a long queue over the holiday season where you’ll be jostling with all the shoppers who have left their gift shopping for the last moment. Make sure your pantry is stocked up with all your favourite snacks and ingredients to ensure you can whip up a plant-based dish if you have to. My personal favourites to keep on hand include a selection of nuts, which can be used for dairy substitutes, seeds, which are good for snacking, garnishes and egg substitutes, vegetable stock, coconut milk, coconut oil, vinegars, grains and legumes. Naturally a nice selection of fruit and vegetables are always welcome, whether you’re vegan or not.

Be open to making new traditions

It might be a little odd to you or your family that you won’t be taking part in some of your family’s former festive food  traditions so ensure you tread lightly with everyone’s feelings this time of year. If your mom always made the best meaty casserole, then let her know you love it, and ask her if she can help you make it vegan. It’s never too late to start new traditions and try new things, you can always create new traditions and memories.

Remember, there’s more to Christmas than food

The festive season is about love, cheer and spending quality time with family: being together, making memories and rounding the year on a high note. Sure, meaty roasts, butter slathered roast potatoes and stuffing are all great, but they’re not what you’ll remember for years to come. Regardless of what you’re eating remember to connect with your loved ones this time of year and allow yourself the rest and peace you’ve definitely earned this year.