By Lucy and Tegan.
One of our readers asked us if we could write a post about how to cope with your first Christmas as a vegetarian! We’ve pooled our vegetarian knowledge and co-authored this post to offer some help to those worried about tackling the new lifestyle during the festive season!
Be prepared to be tempted. If you gave up meat for ethical reasons rather than a dislike of the taste/texture you might find yourself craving that Christmas turkey and pigs in blankets! Having recipes ready with meat free alternatives is a good start, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. Instead of thinking, ‘I’m sad I can’t have turkey,’ you’re excited about the brilliant nut roast you’re going to get to have instead. If you have veggie gravy and sausage rolls to hand, you’re less likely to feel tempted by meat or to feel sad for the food you might feel you’re missing – especially if there are certain foods you associate with the tradition of Christmas.
Have plenty of ready made vegetarian treats to hand. Christmas isn’t just about the dinner – in my family Christmastime and New Year come hand in hand with buffets, chocolate selection boxes, biscuit tins and snacks. Make sure you have vegetarian alternatives for all of these items ready before the festivities start so you don’t go hungry!
Combat the stigma! Depending on your family’s view of vegetarianism, you may experience some stigma from others around the dinner table. If you’re eating with family or friends, maybe bring along something vegetarian you’ve made that they can share and realise that your food isn’t tasteless! (and sharing’s quite nice and festive isn’t it?). My Mum’s nut roast is always popular with the meat eaters at Christmas and they often try to pinch a bit for their own dinners!
If you’re hosting a Christmas dinner be aware that some people may expect meat. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to deal with meat, but that may not be the case and when hosting you should take your guests preferences into consideration. Forcing your family to have an entirely vegetarian Christmas may just create more hostility towards your vegetarianism. Instead, see if a meat eating family member would be happy to cook the meat at their house and bring it with them. This is how we’ve always done it at my house.
Remind yourself to be proud and happy about your lifestyle. If you’re still struggling with temptation or wondering what you can eat, just remember you’re doing an awesome thing, it’s great for animals, for the planet, for your health. That more than makes up for missing out on some foods that aren’t even that great (turkey can be dry and horrible really!). I don’t miss eating meat at all any more!
Rejoice in the Christmas foods that are already vegetarian! Stuffing, Christmas pud and mince pies are all vegetarian anyway! (Of course these things are not naturally gluten free but you can get GF alternatives!)
Also rejoice in the non-food related parts of Christmas. It can be easy to bog yourself down in thinking about Christmas parties, family occasions and the big day itself as food-orientated but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re worried that you’ll feel like you’re missing out, try to focus on the other aspects of this time of year – good company, games, films, crackers etc.
I hope all of you new vegetarians have a very Merry Christmas!
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