Holiday Helper ~ The Gracious Guest
Festives dinners turning into fight night? Try these holiday helper tips and have yourself a compassionate Christmas.
You accepted the invitation; you knew there would be animal products on the table. Maybe not the best time to make your case, but an excellent time for grace.
Let Them Know: You have every right to stick to your beliefs, but do tell your host in advance what foods (specifically) you won’t eat. It’s much less trouble than telling them as they are serving you dishes you can’t stomach. Do ask if other veggie guests attend (there’s strength in numbers).
Don’t say ‘don’t bother/worry about me’. Be proactive, most want to accommodate and can't do that without your help. But do consider how you would like to be told such things. And if you are the one hosting; then it’s your house, your rules, you are well within your rights to insist on no animal products in our house. In either case, plenty of timely communication is still the best way to set a happy table.
Enjoy yourself. Offer to Help / BYOG: Bring a dish or dessert, make a veggie gravy, help with substitutions, ask if items can be labelled, left on the side, or served separately. If you do bring a dish, go for colour, flavour, garnish -make it too gorgeous to resist! But bring enough to share...
Relax: Try to be laid back about your healthy eating habits – if only for today. Your host will probably be stressed enough with making sure everyone is enjoying their food, and that there is enough to eat. Not the best time to go on about why you eat sea salt instead of table salt. Stick to your actual needs, not your entire list of avoided items and recent concerns.
Be Prepared: You are bound to get the usual questions about getting certain nutrients (protein, calcium, vitamin D, B12, iron) on a vegan diet. Look into the plant-based foods rich in these nutrients so that you can give a quick and confident answer.
Be Positive: Praise their peas, rave about the roast potatoes, and remember to be kind to your host. There’s a good chance that, not only did you once eat meat (and were once oblivious), but you may even have enjoyed it before you found yourself on the plant based-path. Consider what would have reached you, and how little you might enjoy being grilled about your child-rearing or transit choices.
In most cases, talking about the negatives of eating meat (while that person is eating meat) makes the other person defensive and angry.
Instead, tell them about the positives of a plant-based diet, and the benefits you have experienced. Know when to change the subject if talk turns to argument, as it’s unlikely you will win the war by making the table a battlefield.
If someone asks why you don’t eat animal products, remind them that now might not be the best/most polite time for your full answer, but that you would love to discuss it with them another time - soon! Offer to send links or leave some literature behind - but above all, be kind.
Do you have some helpful suggestions for how to have a compassionate holiday season? please share