How to Navigate Your First Vegan Holiday Dinner with Family

How to Navigate Your First Vegan Holiday Dinner with Family

  • Kimberly Johnson
  • Kimberly Johnson

Not sure how to enjoy holiday meals vegan-style? Fear not. We’ve compiled some of our best advice for people about to celebrate their first vegan Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or other holiday.

Call the Host in Advance

If you’re headed to a family member’s place this holiday, reach out to the host ahead of time. Most hosts will be happy to prepare a tasty veggie dish for you. Let the chef know that many common holiday dishes can be made vegan simply by switching out a few ingredients—for example, using plant-based butter or olive oil in place of dairy butter and a veggie stock instead of an animal-based one. Then everyone can enjoy the dishes!

Bring Something Delicious

It’s a good idea to bring a main dish for yourself. You can certainly try one of the mouthwatering vegan roasts on the market—you just heat them up in the oven. But if Tofurky isn’t your thing, plenty of other hearty plant-based dishes can take center stage. Here are a few of our favorites.

Be Prepared for Questions

When our family finds out that eating vegan foods is important to us and why, they’re bound to be understanding. Use “I statements” like this: “I saw a video about how animals are raised for food, and I was horrified. I just don’t want to support this cruelty.” Or “I found out that plant-based foods are actually healthier, and I really want to try eating more of them.”

But remember, the dinner table is probably the worst place to explain to someone why you’re not eating animal products. So if someone asks a question during the meal, offer to speak about it later.

You Don’t Need to Know Everything

You may get a lot of questions from family, and it’s OK if you don’t have all the answers. Be honest, and speak from personal experience.

If someone asks, explain honestly why you decided to eat differently. They don’t need to hear every reason for eating vegan (unless they’re interested), and you don’t need to memorize or rattle off all the facts you’ve probably read in various articles online. Just keep it simple, and let them know that eating vegan is positive for you.

Maintain Perspective

Group dinners are excellent opportunities to show friends and family that people don’t need to eat animals to have a decadent holiday feast.

Set a good example by having fun! Friends and family are much more likely to be open to plant-based eating when they see that you’re having a great time and enjoying fabulous food. Be positive, and know that you’re making a huge difference.

While you may be the only one in your family celebrating the holidays vegan-style, remember that literally millions of others are enjoying a compassionate plant-based celebration.

Want to do even more for turkeys during the holidays? Here are five ways you can stand up for our feathered friends.