How do you deal with family gatherings as a vegetarian?
Family gatherings can be stressful for many reasons -- least of all the food! It can be difficult to get into the holiday spirit when you are the only one not partaking in the big bird on the table. That said, being one of the only, if not only, vegetarian or vegan eater at the meat-based holiday dinner table, can be an adventure and a wonderful educational opportunity.
Get in the kitchen and whip some large batches of your fave veg recipes...holiday style! Not feeling creative? There are many wonderful websites at your fingertips that are fantastic resources for veg-ing traditional recipes. If kept in a positive and non-judgmental light, emphasizing the ease and tastiness of veg recipes by preparing and serving up your favorite foods may open up dialogue to the wonders of veg/plant-based living. Most people have their usual favorite vegetables at the table in addition to the meat and dairy. Tasting and seeing other ways to prepare the run-of-the-mill favorites can be refreshing.The best way to enjoy the time and not feel put on-the-spot is to contribute as much as you can to the meal with delicious vegan and vegetarian fare.
Personally, if invited over to another's home, I don’t expect nor request specially prepared food, as it makes me uncomfortable for them to go to what they may perceive as extra trouble. They have invited friends and family into their home and probably have worked quite a long time to prepare a large meal. By bringing your own food and some to share, you are not only helping out but also encouraging plant-based foods (of which we could all stand a bit more)!
If the thought of sitting near to thTDIV e turkey turns your stomach or you can’t even be in the room with others enjoying their omnivorous diet, consider showing up just for dessert or perhaps for drinks and appetizers before the main meal begins.
Otherwise, the bonds of family are, at least equally as important to a healthy life as food choices. If you expect your family to respect your choices and values, it is important to respect theirs as well. Enjoy your vegetarian foods while relaxing with family and friends this holiday season. Who knows -- in the process of spending time bonding with family, you just may get someone to discover a new way of cooking an old favorite without all of the butter, cheese or bacon! If not, try to agree to disagree and enjoy having a great time!!