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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Eating vegan over Christmas

Now, I am making the assumption you are not having vegan friends around, or that you do not have a vegan family (which would be awesome!). In this I am assuming that you traditionally have family gatherings and that these often centre around meat and dairy based foods.
A lot depends on how you deal with other eating animal products.  For some they can ignore it for others they cannot.  Before we look at what you should be doing be doing, let me look at what you probably shouldn’t be doing.

Bringing up the animal consumption at the Christmas meal

This is tricky. Especially for the newer vegan (those under 10 years being vegan).  You have just discovered all the abuse, you are watching a lot of videos on the subject. Many of us (mistakenly) believed that just explaining what actually happens will convince people that it is wrong to exploit animals as we do. Unfortunately, that turned out to be wrong, we cannot convince people like that.  However, we can lead by example.  If we are confrontational at the dinner table, others will go on the defensive.  Christmas is a celebration of family togetherness.  If you attack the family they will unite against you.  You will have a horrible Christmas, and so will they.  However, if they see you are looking fit and eating lovely food, they may be more inclined to move in your direction. Most people aren’t convinced if you attack them.  All they will see is a miserable, moany person at the dinner table and be less likely to change their ways. Avoid talk of animal abuse at the Christmas dinner table and your Christmas will go much more smoothly

Bring amazing food

Simple as it sounds bringing a vast amount of amazing food will do more to convince people than any argument you can create.  If they taste your food and it is fabulous then you have won an important point. Do not bring ‘rabbit food’ to a feast.  I know fresh fruits and vegetables are the healthiest.  I know people feel awesome eating them.  However, this is not the time to convince people of that.  Today is a feast, people want cheesecake, not carrot sticks.  Accept that, buy (or make) cheesecake, roasts, whatever it takes to impress the family.  Many people think limp lettuce and stringy cabbage are the staple foods in a vegans diet.  Most vegans are actually very ‘food-centric’.  We appreciate good food more than the average person as we have to make effort to discover places that make fantastic food. Smooth the table with tempting nibbles and people will try them.

Avoid Christmas day

If you cannot bear to sit with people carving up animals in front of you, then consider visiting the family near to Christmas, but avoid Christmas day itself. I must admit, this is the option I have settled upon over the years.  I now see friends on Christmas day.  We eat a vegan roast and enjoy the day in good company without the stress of seeing an animal dismembered in front of you. This is one option that can make Christmas run more smoothly for everyone.  If you are still at home, then maybe toddle off at meal time to your room and fill up on vegan goodies or pop out for a walk until it is over.  It can be hard to watch and feel involved in a meal so do what you need for you own well being.

Consider your own needs as well as the family

It may be hard to make some choices over the holiday period.  You may have to change the way you have interacted at Christmas for your whole life.  This isn’t easy and may cause some issues.  Be true to yourself, be honest about what you can and cannot do this Christmas.  Knowing yourself is a vital step in this in this process. Above all plan a fantastic Christmas that involves family, friends and loved ones.  However misguided some family members are remember this is supposed to be a celebration, enjoy the time and do not stress. Have a fabulous times and then look forward to an amazing 2016!

Written by Pete Ryan - Clinical nutritionist, personal trainer and massage therapist. Owner of Gorilla Gym

Further reading: "How to survive Christmas" for more tips

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