Social Eating: How to be a Vegan at a Non-Vegan Event

It’s no surprise….the holidays are upon us.  With the cheer, joy and laughter, inevitably comes food.  Whether you are at a restaurant or visiting friends/family, you may end up being the only vegan in the group.  My first piece of advice is..embrace your veganism!  You are to be celebrated, not embarrassed or ridiculed.  We all know people who like to joke about our lifestyle and we may be ok with it, however, remember…at the end of the day, you are on a compassionate mission to change the world!  Let your voice be heard!  OK..now that you’re pumped up :), when you are the only vegan, there are a few tips/things you can do to make things go smoothly.  

  1. Check the menu ahead of time.  Restaurants usually have their menus online.  Do some research and see what you will eat and what you can put together for yourself.  Remember, it’s not that you “CAN’T” eat some things on the menu, it’s that you “choose not to”.  
  2. Bring a dish.  If you are going to a family/friends home, call ahead and ask what you can bring.  By bringing a dish, you are not only helping the hostess, but you are ensuring  you will have something you know will be vegan.
  3. Veganize the menu.  There will usually be something you can veganize for yourself.  If the menu contains beans, quinoa, salad, salsa, roasted veggies, etc., there’s something for you to build on.  A go to for me at a restaurant that doesn’t have very many vegan offerings is a wrap with veggies.  I usually ask the waiter to make me a wrap with whatever veggies they have that are not cooked in butter.  I’ve had some amazing wraps.  (Watch the wrap–some may have non-vegan ingredients.)  Breakfast is especially hard at a restaurant.  I’ve asked for simple rye toast with a side of guacamole and tea.  Delicious!  Be creative!
  4. Eat beforehand.  This is not ideal, since the holidays are very social times that include lots of food.  I like to show people that living a vegan lifestyle is something that doesn’t require a lot of work or leave me out of daily activities, ie parties.  However, sometimes, we end up somewhere that doesn’t have ANY vegan options.  If we know this ahead of time and we cannot bring something of our own, eating beforehand, ordering a tea and enjoying the company we are with is OK.  
  5. Host the party.  By having the party or gathering at your home, you ensure that the food will be vegan and you can show your friends how diverse and yummy vegan food is.  One tip when doing this, label your get together as vegan when writing the invites.  For example, Our Vegan Thanksgiving.  I once had a holiday party at which I hoped to show my friends how lovely vegan food can be and a well-meaning friend walked into my vegan house with a tray of meat.  Avoid this by letting everyone know up front that you will be handling the food.  If they’d like to bring something, have them bring drinks, music or, as I like to say, bring yourself and a smile.
  6. Embrace your lifestyle.  Hold your head high and enjoy the time with your friends/family.  You will be amazed at how many people will be drawn to your lifestyle.  Be prepared to answer questions honestly and informatively.  You never know, the next time, the entire dinner party may be vegan.  How nice that would be!

 

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