Recipes, Travel Tips, Gift Guides, and Self-Care Ideas
Posted on December 10, 2019 by Estella Ramirez
Raise your hand if any of these apply to you this holiday season:
Hosting or cooking (vegan, of course!) for others
Attending a gathering with non-vegans
Exchanging gifts with non-vegans
That’s right. The holidays are stressful! And, there’s added stress for vegan advocates. Unnecessary animal suffering is not only a common part of holiday meals but also a grotesque display celebrated at the center of the table.
What’s more, you’re exhausted after a year of emotionally draining vegan outreach. And now, you may be facing your most challenging crowd yet: your family.
If your family or loved ones are not vegan and some complex dynamics are involved, your head is spinning, no matter how experienced you may be.
We won’t judge you one tiny bit if you skip the ordeal altogether in favor of an all-vegan meal with like-minded friends. And, we sure understand if you feel inclined (or obligated) to join your non-vegan loved ones.
Of course, we can relate. It’s natural to feel apprehensive, whether it’s your first holiday season as a vegan advocate or your fiftieth. In whatever situation you find yourself, we’re here to help. We’ve collected our favorite tips from our vegan community. Let’s commiserate and make the stress of the holidays just a little less painful.
Vegan Holiday Recipes and Ideas to Satisfy All
It’s a lot of pressure to host others in your home, even if your guests are vegan. But cooking for non-vegans or bringing a vegan dish to a non-vegan gathering adds an extra layer to that pressure. Here are some tried-and-true ideas that will satisfy anyone.
Local vegan restaurants often have a holiday catering menu, too. I’ve personally tried and enjoyed holiday meals from both The Chicago Diner (all-vegetarian, mostly vegan with a vegan bakery and vegan holiday catering) and Sage Vegan Bistro in Los Angeles. See what’s available in your area.
Tips for Surviving Holiday Meals
The VegFund family weighs in on handling mealtimes during the holidays.
Patrick Liddy, our social media specialist, shares tips for planning positive mealtime experiences during the holidays:
For those who have a tough time with non-vegan food around the holidays, I’d suggest hosting a vegan potluck with your friends or seeking out a local vegan meetup group and organizing one with them! While it doesn’t really solve the challenges we often experience during family dining situations, it’s an opportunity to have a positive holiday meal with people who share your perspective and values.
Leah Gage, our program officer, says:
I make way too many and way too much of all my favorite vegan dishes. Then everyone feels comfortable (and maybe obliged?) to give it a try and are almost always pleasantly surprised!
Alison Miller, our development director, shares advice for holiday meals made easy:
My advice for vegan-friendly food is to simply keep all prepared dishes to four ingredients or less. It’s amazing what foods you can make with very few ingredients. Once you’ve caught on to using nutritional yeast or cashews in your foods, the rest becomes so easy. Also, make and freeze your grains ahead of time. That’s half the battle of preparing a great dish or entire meal. If you have 2-cup portions of quinoa or black rice frozen, you can do a simple stir-fry with a few veggies, toss in the thawed grain, and add seasonings. Other people will want to be vegan because it’s so darned easy.
Stock your cupboards with seasonal spices that everyone recognizes as holiday spice — think sage, allspice, and cinnamon. Add to your typical stir-fry or roasted veggies, toss in the holiday spice, and it smells just like a “traditional” Thanksgiving or Christmas. For example, make risotto (with veggie broth and a few pinches of nutritional yeast), and then added ground sage. YUM.
Terri J. Freedman shared this vegan survival guide video with us on our Facebook page:
And, if all else fails, know that you can be strong like Majo Mendi, who shared on Facebook:
… for my first vegan Christmas my family “forgot” to set aside anything for me before putting dairy into EVERYTHING, so my Christmas dinner was black can beans and slice bread. I think they assumed I was going to crave maybe, but I sat there and [ate] my black beans and plain bread 💪💚
Ideas for a Seamless Travel Experience
Whether you’re taking a plane or a car to your destination, here’s what you need in order to have a smooth traveling experience this holiday season.
If you’re flying this holiday season, the Vegan Word Holiday Survival Guide and others suggest that you pre-book a vegan meal (airline code VGML) at least 72 hours in advance of your flight. You can do so online or by calling your airline. Happy Cow suggests confirming when you check in at the airport. Once you’re on board, a flight attendant may approach you to confirm your selection. Otherwise, ask them to check for you. Bring vegan snacks in case anything goes wrong.
If you’re going on a road trip, The Vegan Word suggests bringing a cooler with vegan food. For longer trips, you can restock along the way at supermarkets and replenish the ice supply using your hotel’s ice machine. The Vegan Word even has an article with ideas for healthy vegan road trip snacks.
Our own Alison Miller searches for local food co-ops wherever she travels. If you know you’ll be heading to the same destination often, she suggests joining the co-op.
Your Guide to Gift-Giving (and Receiving)
Of course, the gifts you give will be vegan, but the gifts you receive may not be. Here are some helpful resources on vegan gift-giving, avoiding being the recipient of non-vegan gifts, and handling the awkwardness when you do receive them.
Rachel Krantz, writer and co-founder of Bustle, is vegan and offers this gift guide, which includes gifts for the fellow vegans in your life, such as vegan-themed pins and stickers, but also gifts that you can give to non-vegans and vegans alike, such as chocolates, candles, and purses.
You might like to try Alison Miller’s idea: “If asked what you’d like for Christmas, send them a link to your favorite farm sanctuary and ask them to make a donation in your name.”
How to Handle Awkward Questions, Comments, and Situations
We know it’s difficult to decide if and how to get into the uncomfortable truths when someone asks — right in the middle of holiday dinner — why you’re vegan or naively suggests that it’s unhealthy. Here are some ways to navigate — or cope with — those common questions and comments.
Vegan activist Jess Muriel shares this advice with us on Facebook:
Make a little flyer that you can hand out about why you don’t eat animals; that way you can avoid uncomfortable conversations with family or friends (or argue 😉)
This “Defensive Omnivore Bingo” from Vegansaurus can at least keep you mildly entertained if the people in your company send a barrage of ridiculous questions and comments your way:
Remember Your Vegan Activist Self-Care
The work you do on behalf of animals, the environment, and human health is as difficult as it is significant. It’s important to take care of yourself so that you can continue to do that important work moving forward. Here are some ideas to help you reenergize during the holidays or any time of year.
Visit a farm sanctuary and connect with animals who will never have to be exploited or made to suffer again.
“How to Stay Vegan During the Holidays with Non-Vegans” by Emily from Bite Size Vegan
“How to Survive Christmas as a Vegan?!” by That Vegan Couple
Wishing You a Happy Holiday Season
Whether you’re a new vegan or an experienced vegan advocate, it helps to remember the many resources that exist to help you throughout the holidays. And, there are more every year. It’s also helpful to connect with your vegan community and find sources of joy wherever possible. We hope that at least in some small way we’ve made your holiday challenges — and this year — a touch more bearable.
The VegFund family wishes you a wonderful holiday season! We’d love to know about how you spend it this year. Please tag us in your holiday posts using #VegFund.