Food and Drink


Surviving The Family Roast

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Christmas can be a stressful time for families, and if you’re the only vegan at the table it can be an anxious one too. Depending on how supportive your family is or how long you’ve been vegan, you may feel overwhelmed by that gigantic leg of ham, over-sized turkey and Nanna’s well intentioned but perhaps ill-informed views. For this holiday season I’ve put together some hints and tips I’ve picked up over the years on dealing with eating in group scenarios over the festive break.

1. My first rule about veganism is I do not talk about it around food. If you’re meeting people over lunch or dinner it’s usually the first thing they learn about you. Most people are genuinely curious, which is lovely, but I’ve found it best to politely tell them if they’re really interested I’m happy to talk to them later.

2. Avoiding any conflict and attention is my second step. If you’re eating out for Christmas call the restaurant at least a week beforehand to find out what you can eat, or whether you can request a special meal. These days most venues are knowledgeable about veganism and happy to cater for it.

3. If you’re having Christmas lunch/dinner at home, offer to bring a dish. This is the best way to show delicious answers to the constant question ‘gee what do vegans eat’, plus it guarantees you’ll get a meal! If there are other vegetarians or vegans in your family collaborate with them for a few dishes, that way you’ll all have enough to eat. The more vegetarians there are to cater for the less ‘unreasonable’ your dietary requirements will seem.

4. If it rocks the boat too much to bring a dish (hello! my family has many territorial chefs) offer to help prepare the salads and vegies. That way you can salvage some food before it gets slathered in parmesan or mayonnaise.

5. Finally, I’ve had to learn to be more gracious and diplomatic. My veganism is about compassion, which I try to extend to the people around me. In the past friends and family have tried REALLY hard to accommodate my dietary needs, and occasionally there would be a trace of dairy products in their ‘vegan’ options. At these points I’ve had to make a judgment call, feeling that refusing a meal because of a tiny ingredient would cause far more hurt than taking a small serve and saying it’s delicious (but remembering to help them with ingredients choices next time).

Happy holidays!

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