Ah, Christmas! A time of joy, happiness, companionship and laughter. Or a time of awkward questions and not being able to exit a room fast enough…? If you’re worried about being tempted by turkey or constant questions about B12, our vegan survival guide will help you make it through Christmas in one piece.
Christmas is a time for over-indulging and spending time with our nearest and dearest. But when you’re vegan (especially a new vegan), you can find yourself in some uncomfortable situations throughout the holiday season, and there’s potential for things to feel a little fraught…
Fortunately, being vegan isn’t considered as ‘weird’ as it was in the past, but you may encounter some tricky situations over the festive season nonetheless. Here are our tips on getting through Christmas.
Stock up on vegan food
When you’re surrounded by Quality Street, cheese platters and pigs in blankets, it can be difficult to keep your cravings at bay if you’re new to veganism. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to find vegan alternatives to staple festive foods, from mince pies to chocolate selection boxes.
Most supermarkets now offer vegan cheese and an array of chocolates, crisps and sweets. They also launch vegan Christmas ranges full of indulgent goodies. So don’t worry – even when you’re amidst non-vegan foods, you’ll be too busy munching on your own vegan snacks to care. And if you slip up or eat non-vegan foods by accident, it’s really not the end of the world.
Take vegan treats to work
If you work in an office environment, most workplaces throw a Christmas do and the last day of work usually involves bringing snacks to get into the holiday spirit. These situations can draw attention to different dietary requirements, meaning vegans can be bombarded with uncomfortable questions!
If possible, get involved in organising your Christmas meal so you’re not completely forgotten about or left with a disappointing meal (fruit salad, anyone?). Our restaurant guide includes lots of helpful information about vegan-friendly menus on the high street.
Bring cakes, biscuits and other treats into the office to show everyone that going vegan doesn’t mean you’re missing out on anything. The best way to win people over is through their stomach! See our vegan chocolate guide for inspiration.
Create a list of vegan Christmas gifts
All vegans have been there – getting a non-vegan gift for Christmas and pretending to be thrilled so you don’t hurt grandma’s feelings. To avoid this, distribute a list among your family and friends so they know what to look out for.
There are plenty of vegan Christmas gifts online and on the high street, so it should be easy for loved ones to shop for you. If you receive a non-vegan gift, you could re-gift it or donate it to charity. If you feel comfortable, you can politely explain that it’s not vegan so they know for next year.
Educating people around you takes time and patience and it’s inevitable there will be mix-ups and mistakes. We’re only human, after all!
Plan Christmas dinner in advance
If you’re having Christmas dinner at a family member’s house, let the host know you’re vegan and help them arrange options for you. There are tons of vegan Christmas dinner options available in supermarkets, so finding something you like won’t be difficult.
You can also bring dishes of your own to show people first-hand that being vegan isn’t as extreme or limiting as they may think. We have a selection of vegan Christmas recipes to inspire your festive feast.
Do you usually eat out for your Christmas lunch? Contact the restaurant to ask them what vegan dishes they can provide and give them plenty of notice. Alternatively, why not host your own Christmas meal? This might take some persuading, but it gives you control over what you serve and could open people’s minds to new and exciting Christmas dishes.
Be prepared for questions
When you’re new to plant-based living, being the only vegan in your family can be an isolating experience. To some people, ditching turkey and pigs in blankets at Christmas is nothing short of a criminal offense.
Some people (hopefully a minority) will insist on giving you nutritional advice or telling you that we need meat to survive. Others will be genuinely curious and unaware of cruel farming practices or the environmental impact of animal agriculture.
The key is to be patient, answer people’s questions and avoid becoming the ‘preachy vegan’ at all costs. Most of the time people will take the lead from you, so if you keep things light-hearted, fun, and relaxed then it’s likely everyone else will too.
There are lots of resources online to help you respond to every kind of question or counter-argument, from our vegan myths section and online documentaries to Earthling Ed’s 30 Days, 30 Excuses series. You don’t have to know the answers to everything on the spot, so if you’re in uncomfortable territory, simply offer to pick up the discussion another time.
Navigating Christmas Day as a vegan can be confusing and downright awkward at times, but it’s your day too. So enjoy it! Make your own traditions, have fun finding ways to veganise the usual Christmas fare, and think of it as a way to show your family that being vegan is as normal and natural as anything they’ve ever known.
Like a wedding day, a birthday, or any other day in your life that gets built up into something ridiculously big, Christmas Day is just one, single day. And when you look at it like that, it seems easier to navigate. You can and will get through it! And with a little planning, you can totally enjoy it.