PLANT-BASED FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Following a plant-based lifestyle can be easy when you are in the comforts of your own home and in charge of what you are eating, but can easily make you feel like a burden when you go visit family or friends around the holidays who may not follow the same habits. Here are 5 tips and tricks that I have learned over the years while eating plant-based around others that make it easy and much more comfortable!
I. Bring a dish
This is one of the most fool proof ways to make sure that there is something that you can eat at the event. Something I learned from my family is to NEVER show up empty handed! While a bottle of wine and flowers always do the trick, next time try an appetizer, salad, or even a main that is nutrient rich and delicious to help fill you up and impress other guests. The holidays can be difficult when even your favorite veggies are covered in cheese and bacon. I like to bring options that are usually pretty plant based so it does not scream “hey I’m the vegan appetizer!” Some fool proof options include a festive bruschetta on a fresh loaf of bread, homemade hummus, guacamole, or even a salsa flight! If you are in a bit more of a rush or aren’t looking to cook some easy options to purchase and prep include vegetable pot stickers or dumplings, fresh preserves and jams to put on crackers or fresh bread, or even some pre-made flatbreads. In terms of a main I love to bring a casserole that can cover my bases by being my main meal if nothing else is plant-based. This can be especially nice around Thanksgiving when options are limited. Shepard’s pie, lasagna, or a mac & cheese casserole are some of my favorites! Something else important is to make sure to bring enough. Don’t assume you will be the only one eating this dish and make a tiny portion. Bring enough for everyone, don’t advertise it as the “vegan only” dish and simply say you made something, and everyone can try it! This can not only help people be more open to a plant-based diet but also will make them more open to trying it when it is with all of the other dishes. Find your favorite plant-based staples that are always approved by a non-plant eating friend and keep those around for events like this!
II. Be Transparent
The next tip is to be transparent with guests. I have seen first-hand what it is like to try and hide your dietary restrictions or habits with people and it always feels uncomfortable or like a burden. Now I’m not saying to shout from the rooftops but if people ask, say that you follow a plant-based diet with confidence. Keep it simple. Answer a few of their questions without getting personal or emotional. “Yes, I actually do follow a plant-based diet.” If someone asks why you can simply say “for my health and for the environment” or “because I enjoy it!” Whichever feels right to you at the time. Some guests even like if you embellish with them a bit about “Oh I could never give up cheese and bacon! You must be miserable!” and respond with “I know they are delicious, but I still get to enjoy lots of delicious foods too.” I find that keeping things simple and not getting too deep into motives or reasoning helps keep the environment light and enjoyable. This way people do not feel judged on what they choose to eat.
St. Patricks day 2020 in Boston
III. Talk to the host
If you are not the host I would definitely recommend reaching out. You can ask to see if there is anything, they might need you to bring or what is on the menu. This can give you an idea of what your options will be and if you want to make any suggestions. For example, if the host says they are making a salad with goat cheese kindly ask, “hey would you mind maybe leaving the cheese on the side of the salad for people to add to their own salads or simply putting a small portion aside before you add the cheese?” If you don’t feel comfortable with this or don’t know the host that well then you can completely skip this step but if you are close with them, I am sure that this wouldn’t be a problem. Also, as a host I make an effort to see if my guests have any allergies or food restrictions (depending on the size of the gathering) so keep in mind my last point and be transparent. They might surprise you by throwing some extra options on the charcuterie board or making you a side salad or not adding cheese to those green beans!
A plant powered charcuterie board
(with some cheeses for our non-plant friends)
IV. Eat prior and graze
If you are attending a large gathering like a work party or a friend of a friend’s holiday party that you are just stopping by then no need to make a fuss about bringing food or talking to the host. Eat a little something plant-based and nutritious prior to attending so you are not ravenous and graze on whatever you can find. Sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy a drink and good company without worrying about bringing a dish. It may also seem a bit odd if you are an extended guest to contact the host or bring your own dish. Here I would stick with a bottle of wine, flowers, a candle or a small hostess gift.
V. Be Confident
Lastly, be confident in your lifestyle choices. The holidays can make you question “why am I following this lifestyle?” “Am I being difficult?” “Am I missing out?” Try to remember why you decided to follow this lifestyle. Whether it was for better health, the planet, animal rights, or whatever your reason stick to that. A few days out of the year shouldn’t make you question your lifestyle. If you do really feel out of place and uncomfortable then you can also remember it is completely OK to indulge on the holidays. Maybe you aren’t ready to stay plant based around your family and friends during these times of celebration. Just make sure that a few days of indulgence doesn’t derail your confidence in your eating habits. No one will be perfect 100% of the time. Just try not to let other’s questions or judgement make you feel insecure. You have reasons. Remember them.
Pratt Family Christmas 2020
I hope you enjoyed these 5 tips to help make following a plant-based diet around the holidays work for you! Leave any other tips in the comments below!
A Quick Story: "My Mom's Plantsgiving"
In the fall of 2019 my mom and I had been plant-based for about 2 years and were struggling with confidence around the holidays. She had been getting the Forks Over Knives magazines every time she would go grocery shopping and was so excited to see all of their holiday recipes. However, she knew we were not in the place to have a full on plant-based Thanksgiving. We want to respect our family members who are not plant-based and still give them their favorite options on this holiday. So, my mom had the wonderful idea to host a plant-based "friendsgiving" with some of her closest friends a few weeks before Thanksgiving. This way everyone would still have their normal holiday but could try a wide array of plant-based options. (*Note that none of her friends are plant-based, but that doesn't mean they can't enjoy a plant-based meal!) She assigned each of her friends a dish to make and bring to the event. It was absolutely wonderful. My sister (@so_domestic on instagram of Pratt & Deutsch Interiors) created this beautiful invitation and I helped my mom prep for the dinner. Each woman brought a delightful plant-based dish from the Forks Over Knives magazine and had a wonderful time trying all of the delicious food. This is a great way to stay inspired and confident in following a plant-based lifestyle. I can't wait to host events like this in the future!