Amid all the holiday season festivities there can be some stresstivities, too. Though everyone wants an It’s a Wonderful Life-style Christmas, sometimes we get something closer to a Griswold family fiasco.
But people of different beliefs, ages, and perspectives can indeed come together and celebrate what unites us! And if you’re stressing about being “the vegan” at the table (Maybe Grandma doesn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t eat meat, or dad thinks there’s no protein in plants. Is cousin Melody engaged to a dairy farmer?) don’t worry — we’re here to calm your holiday nerves.
We’ve learned that the best way to deal with opposing opinions is the best way to deal with any situation: by extending kindness and compassion. So, here are some tips on how to cultivate those qualities at the holiday table:
- Remember that you were once a non-vegan (unless you were raised in a vegan family, in which case this post may be a moot point!). Try to put yourself in the position of an omnivore; think back to what it was like before you took a deeper look at where the meat, dairy and eggs on your plate came from. Would you want to talk to a vegan who was open and kind — or hostile and judgmental? Likely the former, so try to utilize that approach when discussing veganism with your pre-vegan family and friends!
- Bring your sense of humor. If you’re the butt of some jokes, don’t let it get it to ya. Instead of remaining enraged or insulted, just remember that some of the greatest folks in history were belittled and laughed at. Try to take the ribbing with a grain of salt — and maybe crack a few kind-hearted jokes yourself.
- Come armed with knowledge. Have compelling facts up your sleeve, so if someone catches you off guard with a question, you can calmly refute any false claims and drop a truth bomb or two. We’ve got science on our side, after all.
- Focus on the positives. Even if your family drives you nuts sometimes, you probably still love them, right? No matter how frustrating a conversation may become, try and focus on WHY you love them. What’s awesome about your mom, dad, sister, cousin, grandpa, et al? Remembering these qualities will help you stay calm and compassionate even when they’re spouting misinformation.
- Bring delicious food and share. If you’re attending an omnivorous feast, bring the vegan dish that will wow the crowd! Your presence can have a positive and empowering effect on the other guests. If you’re bringing your own food, bring plenty of extra, and share it freely. Let your tablemates see that vegan alternatives are delicious — and that vegans are willing to share :). Browse our recipes for inspiration!
- Talk about cute animal stuff. Everyone loves adorable animals. Instead of bringing up the horrors of factory farming while everyone is mid-meal, tell some stories about rescued farm animals you’ve met or the super-cute pigs you follow on Instagram. Keep it light and upbeat, but subtly remind everyone that animals are awesome.
- Stay kind. In the end, kindness is what matters most. Try to adopt a compassionate attitude towards everyone you encounter. If people are hostile, sometimes it’s just from feeling a bit defensive. And just because they’re negative about veganism now, doesn’t mean they won’t go home and think about the positive and informative things you said. Three Christmases from now, meat-loving cousin Jack could be a passionate plant eater; you just never know.So plant those seeds; answer questions; and be nice. Happy and compassionate holidays!