5 types of family members that a vegan can face at Christmas
Spending time with friends and family at Christmas is often the best part about it - until they find out you’re vegan. Unless you’re having a completely vegan Christmas, you will likely be surrounded by your non-vegan loved ones and everything they have to say.
Telling someone that you’re a vegan is often like playing a really strange game of roulette, you just don’t know how they are going to act. You’d think in a world with so many different diets, from gluten-free to halal, that veganism would be far better understood than it seems to be.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and while you’ll experience some positive reactions when you tell people you’re a vegan, they can really vary.
Not only is it such a food-centric time of year, it’s also a time when you are likely seeing friends and family that you haven’t seen for a while. Unlike those closest to you, they probably don’t know that you’re vegan and you’ll have to have the same conversation over and over again.
Despite your reasons being the same - going vegan for the animals, planet, your health (or all three) - the other person’s reaction will vary depending on who you’re talking to. While every reaction will be unique, there are some that are certainly more common. Here are the types of people you’ll meet this Christmas as a vegan.
No matter how long you’ve been living a vegan lifestyle, there is always a loved one that is trying to get you to step outside the lines of plant-based eating. From the innocent “oh it did have meat on it but I picked it off for you” to the wicked “oh you can have one egg, what’s one egg?!”
Though this can be frustrating, it’s important to understand that this usually comes from a place of caring. These individuals enjoy eating these foods and truly think that you’re missing out when you don’t want to partake in eating them too.
How to deal with this: politely decline each time and explain why you’re vegan to help them understand.
This type of loved one is an offshoot of the coercer. They will likely equally try and get you to indulge in non-vegan food and drinks but from a slightly different place. Instead of just wanting to share their favourite thing to eat and drink with you at Christmas, this individual is concerned for your health, often based on misinformation surrounding meat and dairy products.
In most cultures, including here in the UK, it’s not common practice to discuss the negative implications of someone's diet. However, the meat and dairy industry have pushed the idea of these products being both beneficial and even vital for human health.
This has been disputed countless times in recent years, with many studies finding that animal products aren’t only unnecessary for a healthy lifestyle but can actually have much more of a negative impact.
It’s important to remember that this individual probably just cares about you and wants you to be as healthy as possible. Unfortunately, their idea of what makes up a healthy diet may be a little misguided.
How to deal with this: acknowledging their concern is certainly the most important move to make when coming across these people at Christmas. However, if possible, letting them know the benefits of a vegan diet may not only set their mind at ease but also open their mind up to a different way of eating.
Though many people in your life may be confused as to why you are vegan, in this case the confused refers to those individuals who just don’t understand what being a vegan means.
Whether it’s being confused with vegetarianism with the occasional “but you can have halloumi right?” or those that think it’s such a restrictive diet and question every food you come across “can you eat bread? What about apples? Are brussel sprouts vegan?”
How to deal with this: though you might find the barrage of questions a bit much, this is actually a great opportunity to open up the conversation and discuss veganism. After being asked what you do and don’t eat, going into the why can really help them understand this way of living and why it’s so important.
Probably the most difficult members of your family at Christmas. The carnist reaction itself can take many forms. From the hedonistic “I eat meat because it tastes good” to the appeal to nature “tigers eat meat”.
While it’s natural to want to argue that their physiology differs quite a bit from that of a carnivore, in these cases, it’s probably best to not engage in a heated debate over the not-so vegan Christmas dinner table.
Part of going against the grain with something like a vegan diet is understanding that some people are so far removed from your belief system, that it’s not worth the hassle of trying to get them to see the other side of things.
How to deal with this: keep conversation surrounding food as limited as possible and change the subject if needed.
This is arguably the best type of loved one to come across during the Christmas period. The curious want to know about veganism and are likely coming to you as a source of knowledge in some way.
Having this mindset means they are not only comfortable with your choice but want to know more about it for themselves. Conversations with this type of person can range from anything, whether that’s animal welfare, plant-based protein sources or vegan Christmas treats.
How to deal with this: using this chance to answer as many questions as they have can really help them on their own journey towards veganism and is a nice break from dealing with the family members above.
There is no doubt about it, being vegan stirs up a variety of reactions from people and it’s clear why. When you’re doing something that is making a difference, highlights injustice and presents a level of self-control not usually found in today’s food culture, it’s bound to rub some people up the wrong way.
Though you meet these people all year round, it can be much more common at Christmas, with different sides of families all coming together for this special time of year. Understanding that you’ll have to deal with these individuals at some point and knowing you won’t convince everyone, the most important step to take before sitting down at the dinner table with your nut roast.
How about checking out our vegan Christmas dinner ideas that everyone can enjoy and if you are being extra last-minute we come to your salvation with our guide to impressing your office with vegan secret santa gifts under £10.