Once again the holidays have crept up. For most of us, it’s a special time—that perfect combination of stress, too much food, and, well, pass the box of wine. Between traveling, family drama (there’s always drama, right?), and getting all the food onto the table, it’s enough to make us question what being thankful really means. Then of course, there’s the token vegan sitting at the table while everyone else discusses how juicy and tender the breast meat is.
Having been that vegan person at the table for more than two decades (I once brought an entire vegan Thanksgiving meal for myself on an Amtrak ride across five states), I’ve heard my share of “oh, you’re vegan…” questions while the rest of the table gnaws on a roasted bird carcass careful not to make eye contact with the cowhugger.
So, whether you’re the vegan at the table or you’re hosting one, to help you through the holidays here are a few questions that should not be asked—and helpful answers if they are.
- Don’t you miss eating turkey (or animals)? Answer: Nope. Pass the Brussels sprouts!
- But it’s Thanksgiving, you can eat turkey just this once, right? Answer: Why would I do that? It’s not like I’m trying to lose weight and considering sneaking in a cookie or a PSL…this is an ethical lifestyle and diet choice that essentially removes all temptation to eating another living being. Pass the Tofurky!
- Do you have enough to eat? Aren’t you hungry all the time? Answer: Why would a vegan be hungry all the time? There are more plant foods than there are types of animal food, and they’re completely satisfying and totally delicious. Pass the cauliflower.
- But you eat fish, right? Answer: Fish are not plants. They are animals. So no, vegans do not eat them. And if you say you’re “a vegetarian who eats fish” you are a hypocrite, and probably kind of a jerk, too. Pass the cranberries, please!
- Where do you get your protein? Answer: Um, in basically every food…Pass the wine again, please? [Note: there’s no protein in wine. But it’s wine!]
- You must miss dairy though, right? Answer: The U.S. dairy alternative market is worth more than $2 billion. Name a dairy product and I can point you to a healthier, more delicious, and certainly more ethical alternative. Please pass the (vegan) mashed potatoes.
- There’s so much human suffering in this world and all you care about are animals? What’s up with that? Answer: Some of the world’s most acclaimed humanitarians (past and present) were also vegans or vegetarians. And being vegan doesn’t mean we aren’t concerned with human suffering as well (some of the most horrific human working conditions are in factory farms and slaughterhouses, BTW). We just also don’t want to eat animals. Pass the peas (and peace)!
Want to make the vegan at your table feel more comfortable?
Well, you can actually do a few things to make everyone feel less awkward: Make your side dishes vegan. Yes, even mashed potatoes can taste ah-mazing with nondairy milk and butter. Stuffing tastes incredible made with veggie broth, and biscuits are also simple to make without eggs, butter, or milk. Plus, turning down the meat and dairy in your sides make the meal healthier–and considering you’re probably going to overindulge, it’s one less thing to worry about.
You can also set the meal up buffet style. That way, your vegan guests don’t have to announce to the whole table that they aren’t eating any turkey. With a plate full of sides, most people won’t even notice. Awkwardness averted. Now, where’s that wine?
Turkey Day image via Shutterstock