How to thrive and survive as a vegan this festive season

With careful planning, creativity, and patience, you can not only survive but thrive during the holiday season as a vegan. l PEXELS/ELLA OLSSON.

With careful planning, creativity, and patience, you can not only survive but thrive during the holiday season as a vegan. l PEXELS/ELLA OLSSON.

Published Nov 27, 2023


It is that time of year again – Christmas decor filling store shelves, and mass amounts of turkey and ham packaged for holiday dinners.

For many, the holiday season is a time of joy and togetherness, a time of tradition and giving. It can also be a period of the year with added stress.

For vegans, the holidays can be especially challenging.

There are also those probing questions from family and friends, sorrow for the animals sacrificed in the name of tradition, and the awkward social gatherings in which you decline people’s cooking.

Here are top tips to help you enjoy and relax this festive season:

Stock up on plant-based pantry essentials. Picture: PEXELS/ASKAR ABAYEV.

Stock up on plant-based pantry essentials

No one wants to stand in a long queue over the holiday season, where chaos is expected to ensue as scores of shoppers have left their gift shopping for the last moment.

So make sure your pantry is stocked up with all your favourite snacks and ingredients to ensure you can whip up a plant-based dish if you have to.

Include a selection of nuts, which can be used for dairy substitutes, seeds, which are good for snacking, garnishes and egg substitutes, vegetable stock, coconut milk, coconut oil, vinegars, grains, and legumes.

Naturally, a nice selection of fruit and vegetables is always welcome, whether you are vegan or not.

Bring a dish everyone will enjoy

Cooking vegan food can be challenging for someone who is not used to preparing food that way. Do not expect the host to make everything vegan.

Try to bring a hearty dish that everyone is welcome to eat, and if all else fails, you will be able to eat all of it on its own and still feel satisfied.

If you feel like putting in the extra effort, bring a dessert as well. Desserts often are not vegan by default, but trust me, show up with easy vegan pumpkin pie or gingerbread cupcakes and no one will have a problem swallowing those down.

Offer to help with the cooking. Picture: PEXELS/MARIA ORLOV.

Offer to help with the cooking

As well as bringing anything you need with you, do not be afraid to get stuck in by lending a hand in the kitchen.

A gathering’s host will be thrilled to have the help, so extra brownie points for putting on your chef’s apron, too.

By doing this, you can help to “veganise” some of your dishes. For example, making a small tin of roast potatoes that use oil instead of duck fat, or a jug of vegetable gravy.

It is much better to do this, so that you are not anxiously worrying about what is and is not vegan, as it is often difficult to tell unless you know exactly what is gone into a finished dish.

Eat at home

If being around meat is too upsetting, or if your host is struggling to feed you, even with your offers of help, it is fine to accept an invitation to visit after their meal has been eaten.

Cook yourself up a tasty meal at home, then pack up your gifts, crackers, and Christmas cheer, and join your loved ones for the rest of the day.