Christmas may be a magical time – but if you're vegan, it's often also a time for confrontation, arguments, and “where do you get your protein” questions. It's also the exhausting time when you're desperately trying to get your hands on the last Tofurkey in the shops, not to mention find a planet-friendly sparkly dress for the holiday office party. If you're ready to stop navigating minefields, relax and truly enjoy the most wonderful time of the year, here is our festive guide to making this holiday period your best yet.
By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist, and vegan fashion expert.
Offer to host.
We know: it's extra work, and you're stressed enough as it is. But consider this: offering to host means that you get to be in charge of what is on the festive table, and are likely to avoid awkward situations where Auntie Sue is upset that you're not having any of her famous pigs in blankets. If you're not able to host your entire family on Christmas day, at least throw an alternative vegan holiday soiree for your friends.
If you cannot host, bring food.
Headed to the traditional family dinner? Bring a vegan roast, tofu bacon, or other plant-based delicacies for the other guests to sample – there's no easier way to win over a sceptic than with tasty food. Enjoy the “wow, this is vegan?” reactions. Worried your cooking skills won't be up to scratch? Check out Jamie Oliver's vegan Christmas recipes for some ideas and how-tos.
Be ready to defuse arguments.
Uh-oh, it's Uncle Bob, ready to fire one of his “how do you know they're vegan?” jokes at you. When it comes to family members who love taking aim at vegans, there are several ways of dealing. If you wish, see it as an opportunity to educate – maybe not uncle Bob, but those around you listening. Come prepared with facts, and stay calm and collected while answering. If you'd rather not get into an argument (we get it, Christmas might not be the best time to whip out the big speech about factory farming), get adept at answering with a quick one-liner (“Protein exists in all plants, legumes are great sources!”) before swiftly changing the subject.
Try out new recipes.
Veganising the classics is amazing – and getting easier by the day! – but sometimes, breaking out of a rut is just the right recipe (pun intended) for traditional with a twist. Go beyond the nut roast this year and branch out to new ingredients. Vegan Food and Living have a collection of nearly 50 Christmas-themed recipes, from cheese toast to chestnut bonbons. If you're not ready to give up the classics, just add in one unexpected detail – like a spicy starter – to break the routine.
Find new festive fashion favourites.
If this is your first vegan Christmas, you might feel uneasy about digging out that silk dress and mohair-blend cardigan that you always wear over the holidays. And while waste is never a good idea and disposing responsibly is key (sell, donate, or pass on to someone who might want it or need it more), it may be time for new festive attire. You'll be pleased to discover that vegan shopping is more plentiful than ever – have a look at our Party Time edit for celebration-appropriate outfits that didn't harm a hair on an animal's head.
Look gorgeous in cruelty-free beauty.
When getting ready for the big celebrations, don't forget to ensure that your makeup isn't a product of cruelty. Contrary to popular belief, cosmetics are indeed still tested on animals in many parts of the world, and thousands of them suffer in laboratories around the globe. But the good news is that shopping cruelty-free cosmetics is easy: check the packaging for certifications such as Cruelty Free International's Leaping Bunny or PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies. After all, true beauty is kind, and what better time to practice this than Christmas?
When shopping for gifts this year, take the opportunity to spread the message of compassionate living by only choosing vegan gifts. Not only will you shop with a clear conscience, but you may also open someone else's eyes to the ease of living a vegan life. Whether it's a vegan food hamper, some cruelty-free beauty, or one of the stylish presents in our gift guide, offer a gift that the recipient will love but that also showcases how enjoyable vegan living can be.
By Sascha Camilli
Sascha Camilli is a vegan fashion writer, speaker and activist. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, you can read our interview with her. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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