5 Essential Tips for Surviving (and Enjoying) Christmas as a New Vegan

Christmas is upon us. For many, it’s a time to relax with friends and family, watch films, drink wine, and eat. But as a new vegan, this can all seem quite intimidating. Unless you’re surrounded by like-minded people, making the choice to maintain a completely cruelty-free diet and lifestyle can seem like a bit of a mission at Christmas time. Here are five top tips to help you enjoy and relax this festive season.

5 Essential Tips for Surviving (and Enjoying) Christmas as a New Vegan

1. How to Explain Your Decision to People Who Don’t Get It

Whilst plant-based food is becoming more and more popular, there are still some who are yet to be convinced of the benefits of veganism.

If some of your family members and friends around the dinner table are not sure about vegan food or the vegan lifestyle, calmly explain the reasons why you made the choice. Maybe it’s for the environment, for your health, or for the animals (or a combination of all three), but by explaining, you might cause them to think about animal agriculture and plant-based living. Most are open-minded and willing to learn and if they’re not, move the conversation on. Perhaps you can try again at the next family gathering. The important thing is that you are happy with your decision.

2. How to Deal with Temptation

As a new vegan, avoiding the two big C’s (chocolate and cheese) can seem like a daunting task. Especially at Christmas time, when the cheese board is rolled out after dinner and boxes of chocolates are on offer throughout the day. The answer is to simply stock up. Make sure you have a good stash of all your favorite vegan alternatives. The best part is if you’re the only vegan in the family, you don’t have to share! You can gobble up all that cruelty-free goodness for yourself, or if you’re feeling particularly charitable, offer some to the cynical members of the family. You might just get them hooked.

Supermarket giants (Tesco and Sainsburys in the UK, Whole Foods Market and Wegmans in the U.S.) have some great vegan cheese options and we would definitely advise building up a supply of vegan chocolate Vego bars for the big day.

3. How to Deal With a Non-Vegan Gift

If you’re a new vegan (or even an old one), sometimes it takes a while for the message to filter down to family and friends. Some may have the best intentions in buying you a thoughtful gift, but they just haven’t realized that it contains animal products. You could politely refuse the gift, or return it to the store, explaining your reasons respectfully and kindly to the gift-giver. Or in some cases, you could just accept it – for example, if the gift is homemade – and understand that veganism isn’t always about being perfect. To read more about how to react in this situation, see here.

4. How to Have a Vegan Christmas Feast

For many families, everything revolves around Christmas dinner on the 25th. As a new vegan, this may be the part you are most dreading, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Ultimately, Christmas is not about the turkey, ham, or the brussels sprouts; it’s about being gathered with your loved ones to celebrate. In the spirit of togetherness, you could offer to help the chef and cook your own vegan meat or just enjoy a plate full of delicious veggies and gravy. If you opt for the first option, you could involve the whole family and put a sample on everyone’s plate – Tofurky is a great alternative!

5. Just Enjoy Yourself

By the time next year rolls around you’ll be a super confident vegan hero. Everyone feels wobbly at first, especially at big family events, with so many deep-set meat and dairy-based culinary traditions taking center stage.

Giving back to the planet and the animals this festive season is the best present of all. So, eat, drink, and be merry. You’re doing great.

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