Surviving the Holidays: Plant Based!
Yes! You CAN survive the Holidays Plant Based! Of course you can. You’re feeling confident. Your food prep game is strong. You are finally starting to get into your groove with Plant Based living, as long as you are in your own environment with your own routine. But how about taking this Plant Based thang out on the town? Or on the road? How about taking it to… the INLAWS for Christmas???
All of these can happen, and you can survive a Plant Based Holiday in every environment! It truly honestly comes down to commitment, and your conviction to walk the line. I once learned that the answer to how to do anything, is to DECIDE. It really is as simple as that. Making a clear and firm decision is the only way to ensure compliance for yourself.
Now I have been known to walk in the gray zone when it comes to compliance in order to spare someone’s feelings. At my best friend’s wedding brunch, her great aunt had no idea that chicken wasn’t considered vegetarian, after all it wasn’t steak. She went out of her way for me and it was a super fancy schmancy sit down southern tea party with fine china and place settings and the highly appropriate coordinating wallpaper. It was as polite and quiet as a fancy event could be. I ate the chicken salad and didn’t say a word outside of thank you. That was over 15 years ago, and the strengths of my convictions have changed.
But how far? Just this year, when visiting the in-laws, I’ve made some questionable dietary allowances. Now I absolutely won the lottery when it comes to in-laws. They are the sweetest, kindest, most loving and supportive people you could dream for. They adopted me fully and adore our children. I’d capture the moon for them. And they really do try to be supportive of our plant based ways. They’ll make broccoli salad, and “it’s all vegetables, but it does have just a little bit of mayonnaise and some cheddar cheese, and some bacon crumbles, but they are really small.” They will offer crackers and hummus, Ritz everything crackers with a side of cookies. They are a sugar cereal, bisquick pancake, Duncan Hines cake mix, and iceberg lettuce house. We basically eat paste while we are there. I’ve been known to eat Donuts and coffee for breakfast, skipping the bacon and eggs offered. That’s a normal visit.
This last visit was different though. I had DECIDED that I wasn’t living at 85-90% compliance, but at a full 100%. Having decided, it was relatively easy- I just didn’t cave to convenience. How?
Here are some foolproof survival steps:
- DECIDE! Don’t cave to convenience. Decide in advance that you will live at your standard.
- Car snacks. The really good prepackaged WFPB compliant ones: bananas, oranges, apples. dates, nuts. Don’t travel hungry!
- First meal out. Showing up in ample time before dinner, we told them we had planned to try out a new restaurant that we had researched. We made it a big fun deal like we’d really planned on this adventure and couldn’t wait. They didn’t feel pressured to cook, and we kept our tact, intact.
- Seek and find in the fridge and shelves. Something will be real food. Grandma had peeled and baked a few sweet potatoes for a recipe, bought some avocados from a church member on a whim not knowing what to do with them, and had cans of pinto beans in the cupboard. I made a pretty satisfying meal out of these items!
- How to dine out: ASK those questions you’re too embarrassed to ask. Favorite food: Ramen and Udon. Went to a local noodle shop that made being vegan easy, but I asked the owner behind the register about each noodle and if any options were whole grain. I asked which broth was vegan. I ended up getting a brown rice dish- that may be my new favorite meal. She was super gracious and helpful, and I got a fully WFPB meal right off the menu. Old 90% compliant me would have DEFINITELY done the Ramen and not asked questions about whether or not the broth had fish sauce. (It did, but they had a veggie one available no hassle.) Speak up, be polite about it, but ask the questions.
- Do some shopping. Don’t put it on your guest to provide special things for you, especially when that plant based life is totally foreign to them. Hit up some staples, your plant milk choice, your sprouted grain bread, some easy snacking veggies and hummus. Make sure to buy sharing amounts, and ask them if there is anything you can pick up for them while you’re out.
- Do a little cooking. Ask if you could make a side dish or something for everyone, a salad (the hearty vegan kind!) Some compliant pancakes or muffins, even bring some with you already prepared. Cooking in their “off kitchen” times so you don’t crowd them out is the polite thing to do. They are often curious and may learn a few things. (Like tofu scramble!)
- Be gracious. Don’t run away for every meal and shame them for their choices. Thank them for each and every effort. Share all of your stuff. Invite them to join you for that new restaurant. I also like to make them feel that I am very grateful for putting up with my special needs and accommodating my weird dietary lifestyle. They’ll appreciate you taking the high road and making sure they don’t feel as if they couldn’t provide or that you judge them in any way.
I hope these tips for surviving the holidays on a Plant Based Diet can assist you in staying strong and staying the course. It CAN be a challenge, but the strongest weapon in your arsenal is CONVICTION. It truly truly comes down to you deciding in advance that you are going to do it no matter what, and you will find a way. This above mentioned in-law visit takes place in the very deep south in South Carolina, where options are sparser than other places. If I can do it with two kids, you can definitely do it, too! ALWAYS be very aware of your hosts feelings, making sure not to try to educate or judge. Just lead by happy example. When they see that you are healthy and fit and heading further in that direction, without any preaching from you, they may start asking questions and even may try a few new things. Go out there and be a Brave Plant Based Badass!
If you found this helpful, please feel free to share! Sharing is caring and the more people on your team, the easier this road can be!
Aloha, Your Kickin’ Vegan