This week, I received two great questions concerning the holidays that I'll address here.
Q1: I'm hosting a holiday party and want to make it vegan. Should I let my guests know ahead of time? How should I respond to guests who might want to bring non-vegan food to the party?
A1: If you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner and have some guests who really have trouble with change, then you might want to let them know that this year's meal will be filled with a variety of delicious, plant-based foods, rather than the "traditional" turkey and non-vegan dishes. I think the amazing dishes you serve will go a long way to changing people's minds about plant-based eating.
In regards to handling guests' requests to bring food to your party, I would let them know you're planning a plant-based meal and would appreciate dishes that don't contain any animals ingredients. It's helpful to let people know what this includes: no eggs, butter, fish or chicken stock, other dairy, meats, and seafood. In situations like this, I personally provide the main course, some of the sides, and dessert and ask those who offer to bring drinks, a salad without cheese, a loaf of bread, or some fruit. This steers people who might want to bring animal-laden dishes in the plant-based direction. Happy Holidays!
Q2: I'm going to someone else's house for a holiday meal and wondering if maybe, for one night, I should let my new vegan eating habits slide. I'm concerned about feeling out-of-place or fielding questions/comments from other guests because I'm not having the turkey, ham, etc. What do you think?
A2: When I was newly vegan, I had more of these concerns, but this gets easier over time. While it is tempting to slide back into old eating ways for an evening (particularly if you're receiving some peer pressure to do so), remember why you originally adopted a plant-based diet. I eat this way for the animals' sake and second, for health reasons. When I go to parties, I try to be joyful and enthusiastic about vegan eating. I bring a vegan dish or two for all to share and field any questions as pleasantly as I can. As cookbook author and animal advocate Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, we are the vegans in the room. If we stick to our guns in social situations, people will know they can come to us with questions and advice about plant-based eating. This can be our contribution to the animals and to the health and well-being of those we know and love.