Christmas is marked as a time gratitude, love and sharing, which are concepts everyone can relate to.
Gift giving and sharing a meal are ways in which we may connect or show those around us how much we care. As a vegan, this can be a bit of an emotional minefield, if you allow it to be.
Here are our top tips for Christmas:
1. Host your own vegan Christmas
For the past four years we have hosted our own vegan Christmas at home. We invite friends and family (both vegan and non-vegan). Some years there’s been lots of people, some years a couple. Every year, it is relaxing, fun and enjoyable. We make loads of “traditional” Christmas food – all vegan of course!
2. BYO delicious vegan food to share
Hosting Christmas may not be for you. If you’re heading to a non-vegan gathering, take along a couple of delicious vegan dishes. This is your insurance policy to having a full tummy of guaranteed vegan food. It is also a great conversation starter and advocacy opportunity. If our experiences are anything to go by, everyone is always interested in the delicious food we bring. It always gets eaten – and not all by us! We love hearing non-vegans say how delicious our vegan food is! Best of all you avoid being a “hangry” vegan and reinforcing the old stereotype of the angry vegan with nothing to eat.
Some ideas of dishes to take along:
• Pasta bake/salad
• Potato bake/salad
• A big tray of roast veggies (doesn’t get much easier) – pack some vegan friendly gravy powder too!
• Coleslaw or other salad
If you have a sweet tooth you may like throw a dessert in your cache too. There are several vegan friendly Christmas puddings available here in Australia. Check out your local vegan options or whip up your favourite dessert.
Other easy things we often bring along to gatherings include vegan friendly crisps/nibbles and vegan friendly wine.
If you are concerned about offending a well meaning host, have a chat with them in advance. Let them know that you would love to contribute to the day by bringing along some dishes to share. Showing up to the party with food to share, drinks and a big smile is usually met with great enthusiasm!
3. Pitch your gift ideas ahead of time
Don’t wait for Christmas day to receive a pile of non-vegan gifts. Although you may not be able to predict everyone who is likely to give you a gift, when it comes to family and close friends, it’s often possible to have a chat in advance about gift giving.
Some suggestions include:
• no gifts
• donation to your favourite vegan run animal sanctuary
• your favourite vegan sweets/chocolate
• your favourite vegan wine
4. Leave the angst at home
If you have made the decision to head along to a non-vegan Christmas celebration, do yourself a favour and leave anger or hostility at home. We know it can be difficult to be around loved ones while they consume the flesh and secretions of sentient beings. Chances are you have had many conversations about veganism with them in the past. You might be wondering how they can continue to consume animals. There are great opportunities for advocacy at Christmas time, but avoid heated arguments. Share your delicious vegan food, share the message of animal rights with a calm and rational approach and, of course share the joy and the positivity that is veganism!
By bringing your vegan food, sharing a positive vegan message, and not living up to the stereotypes of the angry and argumentative vegan, you are changing the dialogue about veganism. Be patient with your family/friends who are yet to understand veganism and remember:
The last thing other animals need is another reason not to care about them. How we act towards other people can provide just such a reason. Being rude or judgmental [sic] doesn’t help any nonhuman. A coping technique I use (to quell my impatience, when I feel it bubbling-up in my throat) is to think of the people who ask questions I’ve been asked hundreds of times as mirrors. Yes, I think of them as mirrors. When I look at them, in other words, what I see is a reflection of who I used to be.
Like them, there was a time when I didn’t know how other animals were being treated.
Like them, there was a time when I knew but didn’t care.
Like them, there was a time when I knew and cared but not enough to change how I was living.
Like them, there was a time when I was . . . them!
That’s what I try to remind myself. I don’t want to come across as self righteous or arrogant. That would give the questioner another reason not to care about other animals, and I don’t want to do that—I don’t want to be that reason.
Tom Regan – via ARzone 20 May 2011 Full interview can be found here.
We hope that these tips help you have a joyous holiday season! If you have any questions, comments or feedback, get in touch with us via email or any of our social media pages.
Much love from the Happy Vegan Living team x