How is it already my fifth year celebrating the holiday season as a vegan?! I remember like it was yesterday how both intimidated and excited I was for my very first Thanksgiving; to try and create all vegan dishes, to not feel as though I was missing out on anything or be ostracized by friends and family I was celebrating with.
Five times around the block has taught me quite a bit, let me tell you. I figured it would only be right to share my tips and tricks with you to better help you have the best possible vegan holiday season.
Bring EPIC vegan dishes. The way to people's hearts is indeed through their stomachs. This is where you bring the big guns. And by big guns, I mean all the most decadent vegan foods using all the processed, refined, fatty, sugary ingredients. You know, the ones the whole foods, plant-based gods wouldn't dare hear you speak of. This is NOT the time to be healthy and unprocessed. Trust me, I've been there and done that. Those that you are surrounded by are likely used to the processed, refined nature and high fat content of animal products, so go for the very prevalent vegan alternatives to that. Think vegan butter, oils, white refined sugar, white flour, salt, etc. This is your opportunity to show them how indulgent vegan cuisine can be and how you truly aren't missing out on anything.
Be armed with facts. Let's face it, you're the oddball at the dinner party that's not eating what everyone else is eating. You are a target. More likely than not, questions, comments or even jokes will fly. Be ready. Refresh yourself on the hard data by watching a documentary, reading a book, a few articles, or listening to a podcast, so you can reference this information during conversation. Confidently speaking your mind exemplifying that you live the way you do for solid reason will undoubtedly impress those around you and make a significant impact.
Save serious discussion for outside of the dinner table. As much as comments may arise most commonly while at the dinner table, where you're most noticeably not eating the turkey or other animals, refrain from delving into this conversation then. I would suggest something like "I would love to discuss this with you after dinner." It creates for quite an uncomfortable dinner table dynamic if you expose the very real and gruesome reasons you are not consuming the dead animal in front of you while others are doing so. Often times, people makes comments to deflect how they are now questioning their own decisions since you clearly have reason to abstain, and don't actually want to get into the facts right then and there. This is likely not the best time for them to be open to hearing you out.
Know the substitutions to easily veganize traditional dishes. Besides the turkey, my family's Thanksgiving dinner is now completely vegan (WOO!), with not much having changed at all. The nostalgic holiday dishes I grew up eating are enjoyed just the same, but now even more so now knowing that they don't come at anyone else's expense. I've found that my favorite and most commonly used substitutions in these dishes are cashew milk for dairy milk and Earth Balance butter for dairy butter. Check out PETA's The Ultimate Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet for more substitution ideas.
That's about it! Up the ante with indulgent vegan dishes, know your facts, discuss veganism with others in an appropriate setting where they'll be open to hearing you fully and educate yourself on the readily available vegan substitutions to continue enjoying all your traditional holiday dishes.
I have already started preparing for the Thanksgiving feast I will enjoy with my family in a couple of days that I will be sure to share with you. I swear each year is more delicious than the last. I'll be capturing photos and posting recipes for you, so be on the lookout!
Talk soon and happy Thanksgiving! May this holiday serve as a reminder to feel and show compassion and gratitude in everything you do.