How to conquer the holidays being a Vegan

11825096_846744312046647_4810043888573991342_nBeing vegan during any holiday can be difficult, but holidays centered on eating, like the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving, or any holiday can be especially challenging. People seem to believe you’re insulting them if you’re not interested in chowing down on an all beef hamburger or turkey leg finished off with some ice cream and pie for dessert.

My first few vegan holidays were scary and occasionally a bit confrontational, but I managed to stumble through them. Hopefully my experiences can make your holidays as a new, or even experienced, vegan a bit easier and a lot more joyful. After all, veganism is something to celebrate, not be embarrassed about or hide. What better than holidays to inspire love and compassion for all creatures?

Be Prepared


The first rule you learn quickly as a vegan in any situation, be it a holiday or just a small dinner party with friends, is to be prepared. This is especially true if you’re the only vegan or vegetarian in the picture. I learned this the hard way after suffering through a few too many parties subsisting on only salad and hummus, that I needed to bring food with me wherever I went. This is really applicable to life in general, not just parties and holidays. It also isn’t because veganism is difficult, it’s because the world is set up for non-vegans for now.


Being prepared can take a lot of forms, depending on your time and the type of event you will be attending. I always carry around some kind of vegan protein bar, like a Vega or Cliff bar, for unexpected emergencies. For small scale events, sometimes I’ll just pack a really delicious lunch. This is especially great for office gatherings, because everyone can see how delicious your lunch is compared to whatever is on their plate. If the occasion is appropriate, I love to whip something up in the kitchen to bring with me and share. I’m a baker, so a batch of cupcakes or brownies is always impressive, but go with whatever you’re comfortable bringing or making. Even some chips and hummus can impress people who have never realized they already eat “vegan” food everyday.

Be Compassionate

The holidays are a stressful time, so it’s critical to remember to be compassionate to all creatures, including humans. While attending parties or celebrations and constantly being asked questions about your veganism can be frustrating, most people truly are interested in what you have to say. After all, you may be the only vegan they know! When you feel overwhelmed just take a deep breath before answering, and if that doesn’t calm you down just find somewhere quite to take some alone time. I also find it helpful to hang out with a few like minded vegan friends right before or after an event I know will be stressful. This gives me some support or something to look forward to.

Another part of being compassionate is to think about how the host of an event might be feeling (assuming you’re not in charge, which is unlikely if non vegan food is an issue). The host is probably stressed out about what to feed you, so your kindness and willingness to help out by providing food or vegan recipes is crucial to a warm reception and a good time for everyone.


Have Fun

Having fun might sound silly but it’s critical for everyone’s comfort and relaxation, including your own. Remember you don’t have to be the vegan in the room all the time or always be ready for a debate. Just relax! The holidays are so closely connected with people’s fondest memories and harbor strong emotional ties to food, which is often why people get frustrated or even angry when you disrupt these with your veganism. It might help to prepare a few sentences in response to the inevitable “Why are you vegan?” question and its many variations. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but you do need to have some idea of how to respond. My answer is always simple but to the point: “Because I love animals.” It’s true, but it also makes people stop and think, because they love animals too.


At the heart of holidays and celebrations, though, is the opportunity to connect with one another and enjoy other people’s company. If you allow yourself to have fun, you will also show everyone that being vegan will in no way impact your joyful experience of life or anyone else’s. It might also convince a few guests that being vegan is worth trying, after all.


Guest writer:  Sara Farr of

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