Christmas is a time of love and togetherness, but being the only vegan at the table brings about another level of loneliness 💔 On 1 January, I’ll be vegan for four years and this was the first Christmas I’ve ever felt estranged.
It’s not the perfectly packed platters of gammon, chicken legs, bacon-wrapped cherries, beef tongue and rolled salami sticks that sunk my heart. Nope, even though cold meats covered in cranberry glaze is not what I consider a pretty sight, I’ve trained myself not be offended or traumatized by friends’ and family’s eating habits. The sadness and loneliness I felt were caused by personal disappointment, silly decisions and ultimately, self-pity. I was estranged simply because I didn’t put in more effort to create a plant-based spread that would make my family drool. You see, we easily blame others for not accommodating our vegan needs, but the responsibility for our isolation is often our own.
What if I took charge of Christmas and implemented the change I wanted to see, then my family would’ve enjoyed a plant-based Christmas meal WITH me. I know that every Christmas my family feasts on cold foods, so what if I replaced a meaty platter with a vegan version: tempeh-rolled cherries, Fry’s chicken-style nuggets, roast, butternut balls and prawn pieces, seitan steak strips, falafel frikkadels, and veggie sausages.
What if I roasted the vegetable crudités and placed them inside a beautifully decorated bowl of beetroot or red pepper hummus, instead of having my (ridiculously delicious, yet plain) hummus in ramekins next to the dairy-heavy sauces.
What if I insisted that the two Oumas use B-Well’s egg-free mayonnaise for the potato and noodle salad, or better yet, gone to buy it for them and explained to them why it’s a healthier option to replace their mayo overall.
What if I ordered a big batch of Unframed’s smooth coconut ice cream and made a fruitcake that doesn’t contain eggs. Or whipped up an avo-chocolate mousse or paraded around with my perfected vegan peppermint tart.
What if I used my no-fail Oreo truffles to replace the Lindt balls on guests’ side plates and sent them home with my mom’s veganised ginger-bread cookies to take on their upcoming beach-holidays.
But then, what if all my efforts failed? What if they criticized my food and left me more disappointed about the fact that my family didn’t enjoy my dishes or supported my beliefs? I can’t imagine that it would (the couscous salad I did make was well received and my family is pretty damn awesome about the whole vegan thing) but even if it did, at least I would’ve known that I tried. Worst case, I would’ve had a week’s worth of meal-prep done and dusted.
Throughout the day I caught myself wiping away the tears, hiding behind selfie-smiles and feeling terribly sorry for my lonesome vegan self – and it’s my own fault. Christmas is a time for togetherness, but only I can decide whether I’m going to let my differences break bonds or use it as an opportunity to bring my loved-ones closer.
If you are only celebrating Christmas over dinner tonight, you still have time to impress your guests with a vegan dish and avoid experiencing a celebration of isolation 🎄❤️ And if, like me, your day is done, and you regret ALL the what if’s, try to forgive yourself (and perhaps your family), start to love yourself and simply plan a feast for the next event to come.
PS. This seems like a morbid post, but I do still adore Christmas, and it was amazing to be surrounded by family. I also still enjoyed a good plate of vegan food… And uncle Jack accidentally ate my oven-baked Fry’s chicken-style nuggets and loved them too ☺️🌱