On Being Vegan During the Holidays

Our member blogger today is Laura of Laura’s Paper Creations. Thank you Laura!

laura1Being vegan during the holiday season can be a challenge. Family gatherings revolve around food, most especially meats and dairy products. And while it can be done, communication is the key. By letting others know your eating preferences, both you and your hostess can enjoy the family meal.

When I am going somewhere else for a meal, I have two choices to make. I can let the hostess know and offer to bring something to the meal. This way I know there is something there I will be able to eat. Or I can choose to leave the hostess in the dark and be prepared for the possibility that there will be nothing I can eat. Suffice it to say, I like to go with choice #1.

And while so many people wonder what I could possibly eat as a vegan, I am continually amazed by the choices of foods I have and the many wonderful recipes I can create without using animal products.

Besides the meat centerpiece, many holiday meals revolve around vegetables. And the sheer number of ideas for vegetables is enough to load down any holiday table. Whether they are main dish centerpieces of their own or a host of side dishes, a hearty meal can be enjoyed without any meat products.

I recently discovered the following recipe which is soon to become a mainstay meal in my home. Filled with hearty lentils, mushrooms and spinach, this Vegan Shepard’s Pie is both easy to make and delicious to eat. Lentils are a particularly healthy source of food for many reasons. First, they are filled with fiber which helps lower cholesterol as well as prevent blood sugar from rising after a meal. Lentils also provide folate and magnesium to your diet, both of which help lower the risk of heart disease. They are wonderful sources of protein and finally, very economical.

Before my journey into the world of vegan cooking, the only leafy green I ate was spinach. I have since expanded my horizons and have discovered a variety of wonderful choices in addition to spinach. Swiss chard is one such leafy green. Rich in vitamin C, K, and A, along with iron it has been found to help prevent osteoporosis and anemia along with protecting against cardiovascular disease and colon and prostate cancers. Here is a simple recipe for sautéed Swiss chard.

So if you are struggling with the holidays as a vegan remember some simple tips:

-Talk with your hostess about what you eat

-Offer to bring a dish for everyone to share

-Remember that your choice is not for everyone, holiday gatherings are not the time to preach to others about their food choices

-Be prepared to answer questions about your food choices

-Keep a sense of humor, especially around those who may mock or criticize your choices

With the wealth of vegan resources at your fingertips, you can minimize the stress of holiday dinners and enjoy time with family and friends rather than worrying about what you can eat.

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