Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Parties: A Vegan Survival Guide

Last weekend, my parents hosted their annual Christmas caroling party. Friends, neighbors, and relatives came over to have a light dinner and then we went out caroling around the neighborhood. Afterward, we warmed up with mulled wine and cider. It was the perfect opportunity to show off what a good singer I am under the guise of holiday cheer.

This was not the first holiday party I’d attended this season, and since it is my first holiday season as a vegan, I’ve been taking note of ways I can avoid awkwardness (for myself and my omnivorous fellow party-goers) in a trial-by-error kind of way.

Of course, your best bet is to just celebrate with other vegans. But if like me, you have few (okay, zero) vegan friends, and you don’t want to turn into an anti-social Grinchy McGrinchface, you will inevitably end up in a non-vegan holiday party situation. So I’ve compiled the following list of three simple behaviors that, I hope, can help other vegans avoid some of my holiday party fouls.

1) Bring a delicious vegan dessert to share.
If possible, make it yourself. And don’t tell people it’s vegan until they’ve gorged themselves on it. If you show up at the party and announce, “I have a plate of vegan cookies!” people might be afraid to try them. So let them enjoy the cookies and then savor their surprise when you mention that those cookies all over their faces they just ate were vegan. This trick worked great with the chocolate chip cookies I brought to a holiday sparkle-themed party and the peanut brittle I made for my parents’ party.

Note: this only works if your vegan dessert actually tastes good. Don’t bring nasty vegan cookies to a party.

2) Don’t talk about being a vegan.
Probably the only way to pull this one off is to not even mention you’re a vegan – as soon as you do, the person you tell will demand details. Why are you a vegan? How do you manage it? Where do you get your protein? Well, you certainly don’t get your protein from two pieces of red velvet cake, a caramel brownie, and a handful of M&Ms every few minutes. But the person you’re talking to thinks she does, and if you draw attention to her indulgences, she’ll just feel self-conscious and get defensive. At holiday parties, people want to stuff their faces in peace. This is one time when you shouldn’t disturb that peace.

3) If you must talk about being a vegan, direct the conversation to how weird raw foodists are.
I was the token vegan at my parents’ party, and people kept asking me about it. If I had refused to answer, it would have just seemed creepy, like I had lost my powers of speech or something. So instead, I bonded with them about the only dietary restriction more alienating to omnivores than veganism: raw foodism. “Yeah, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid eggs, but ohmygod those people don’t eat spaghetti. Can you imagine?”

And if all else fails, just start singing a Christmas carol really loudly. Joy to the World works well. At any other time of year, you will almost certainly be ostracized for such behavior – but at Christmas, people will admire your holiday cheer and join in.


  1. Good ideas. Also, my family is Italian so they do pasta and fish Xmas Eve so I made my own sauce ahead of time because they make there's with meat and I will bring it. I will say it can be hard when people keep questioning you about it not in an informational way but in a sarcastic comment way.

  2. My family is Italian, too! Luckily they don't make too many meat sauces, or they make a separate little sauce dish for me with no meat in it. But bringing your own is a great idea because it doesn't inconvenience anyone else!

  3. bahaha, I love idea number 3! :-)