The holidays are an important milestone for any blossoming relationship. During this memorable time of year, you get to meet one another’s families, eat delicious food, and exchange gifts. There’s nothing like sharing something that’s been special to you since childhood with your significant other. However, when you’re vegan, the holidays can get a bit complicated. Since a lot of holiday meals include some sort of animal products, you might feel as if you are a burden for your loved ones or might feel resentment.
To help you get through this special, and often trying, time of year, we have compiled a guide on surviving holiday gatherings with your vegan partner.
No Surprises: Tell Your Parents About You and Your Partner’s Vegan Diet
A couple of weeks before you fly out to your parents’ home, tell your parents about how you and your partner are now vegan. Being vegan isn’t some dirty secret and especially in this day and age, it shouldn’t be shocking news. That being said, your family will probably want a head’s up so they can prepare special food for you and your partner. Or at least try to understand what vegan means. Maybe?
There is a myriad of vegan options for the holidays. Instead of turkey, you there is tofurkey and a plethora of other vegan holiday roast options. For dessert, there are many alternative kinds of milk and butter. So most desserts will taste almost the same, or better, as the ones with dairy. If they are at a loss, they can always default to some amazing vegetable-based dishes. If you have a chance it might be easier to bring your own dinner. One great way to introduce people to veganism could be to share your meal with family and experience how good vegan can taste.
Set Expectations For Your Partner
Just like how you need to tell your parents in advance about your vegan diet, you should talk to your partner about what they should expect from the holiday party. Are you part of a family of meat lovers who bond over grilling steaks on the barbeque? Though that’s not the most ideal situation, it will definitely be easier. If your partner practices a very strict form of veganism where they won’t sit at a table with others who are eating animal products, then they might not want to go at all. But, sometimes there will need to be compromised, especially if the relationship is getting serious.
Help Your Partner Be Prepared
To ensure that you have something to eat during the holidays, you and your partner can research vegan dishes beforehand. There are plenty of awesome vegan cookbooks you can dig into. In addition, you guys should have answers prepared for some common questions your parents might ask about your new diet. Here are some statistics you can point to about how veganism is actually great for the environment:
- A whopping 83% of farmland is used for meat and dairy production.
- Meat and dairy production is responsible for a stunning 60% of greenhouse emissions from the agricultural sector.
- According to one estimate, 14.6 gallons of water are required to produce a single burger.
You don’t have to get into extended arguments about your lifestyle. But if you and your partner are ready to explain how it isn’t just a trendy fad, you will reduce conflict.
Unfortunately, families aren’t always accommodating. Some people feel very attached to their traditions and so, can get a bit stubborn around the holidays. If no one else is vegan and you feel uncomfortable because there aren’t enough options for you and your partner, let people know that you will be leaving earlier. You and your partner can politely stay around for an hour and then head out to a romantic, vegan-friendly dinner. And since it’s the holidays, a few of your friends will certainly be back as well — make plans with them and catch up over some mouthwatering tempeh wings.
Give it Time
It’s perfectly understandable to feel nervous and experience anxiety when bringing your significant other to meet your parents for the first time. But you shouldn’t freak out! Set expectations ahead of time, respect your partner’s feelings, create healthy boundaries, and enjoy yourself. Have fun and Happy Holidays!