The holiday vegan

Tips for remaining true to your diet during the holiday season

Whether you are vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free, managing food allergies, or otherwise, maintaining your diet during the holiday season can be challenging. With plant-based diets gaining popularity, many more people choose to go meat-free. I speak from years of experience as a lone vegan among turkey-loving friends and family. 

Vegan chocolate cake
Photo Credit: Sarah Sheets

As we prepare to go home to our families, host gatherings, or celebrate with friends, it is difficult to remain true to our regular eating habits. We are confronted with food choices that don’t fit our chosen dietary patterns or needs and find ourselves in situations with little to eat. As a longtime vegan, I have developed several strategies over the years that allow me to enjoy the holiday season without worry.

  • Eat before you go. If you prefer not to discuss your dietary choices, eating before you go might be the best option. Also, arriving with a full stomach means you are less tempted to snack and graze at the party. 
  • Bring snacks. If you find yourself at a party with limited food options, you won’t go hungry. Find a quiet corner and enjoy your snack. 
  • Make it yourself.  Volunteer to bring a dish or dishes to pass. Most hosts and hostesses will be thrilled by this offer.  I usually make crispy baked tofu with peanut butter sauce for an appetizer, vegan shepherds pie for the main course, and a vegan chocolate cake for dessert. These dishes are proven crowd-pleasers. 
  • Communicate. “Don’t be shy; self-identify!” Speak up about your food preferences or needs before a holiday visit or party. Communicating your needs to the host will make the event more enjoyable. Don’t be shy about expressing dietary needs and concerns. 
  • Plan, plan, plan! Plan your snacks, menu, when and where to cook your dishes, and what equipment and ingredients you need. Failure to plan means failure. 
  • Be Flexible. Sometimes even careful planning and communication may leave us in situations where we have to be flexible and eat later. You might not be able to enjoy the meal, but you can still enjoy the company of family and friends!

Whatever dietary pattern you follow, these tips can help you stay on track during the busy holiday season. If you’d like to speak to a registered dietitian about holiday meal planning and your dietary preferences, contact Eagle Nutrition Services to help. Happy Holidays!        

About the Writer

Sarah Sheets is a dietetics student at Eastern Michigan University who has followed a vegan diet for the past seven years and enjoys all aspects of cooking and nutrition.