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How To ‘Survive’ Family and Social Events as a Vegan

Holidays, family gatherings, and social events may be quite stressful for a lot of vegans. Here are some ideas that could help you 'survive' these events.
Draga Neskovic, BA Philosophy, Adult Education

Written by Draga Neskovic, BA Philosophy, Adult Education. Updated on November 12, 2022.

Gloomy November seems never-ending, but thankfully, December is right around the corner and the joyful holiday season is finally coming.

A time for gratitude, rejoicing, family gatherings, and good food. What could go wrong?

Unfortunately, the situations that should bring us happiness and fulfillment tend to turn into real nightmares.

Holidays, family gatherings, and social events may be quite stressful for a lot of vegans.

A plant-based lifestyle is still a bit of a taboo subject in some places.

In theory, you can choose to surround yourself with people who fully appreciate and respect your habits.

But in real life, you can not choose your family, coworkers, and most of the participants in social events that were planned by someone else.

The sad truth is that most vegans say that the hardest part of pursuing their lifestyle is the judgment of others.

There are so many practical, everyday difficulties like meal preparation, forgetting your food at home, organizing the dishes you can bring wherever you go, limited options in every food store and restaurant, and missing the taste of certain food.

But none of the above seem to bother vegans as much as dealing with non-vegans.

Hence, a social event with omnivores who do not look kindly on your choices and habits might be a stressful setting.

That’s why this article will focus on a couple of tips that should help you turn an unpleasant situation into a fun one without compromising your beliefs and lifestyle.

1. Bring Your Food

Following a plant-based diet makes a lot of us more independent when it comes to cooking, meal preparation, and organizing our meals.

So, planning your holiday or social event takeaway meal should not be a problem.

Pack a tasty and nutritionally balanced meal and have fun at the social event.

You will not depend on the restaurant menu or the host of the gathering, and you won’t feel like missing out since you will be enjoying a nice meal just like everybody else.

If you don’t feel like taking your food with you, you can always eat before you go to a social gathering and once you get there, spend quality time interacting with your friends and family.

If you lose appetite in the presence of meat and dairy products, you can also eat before you arrive or take your meal into another room and come back once you ate.

2. Suggest a Restaurant or Offer to Host the Social Gathering

If you are going out with friends, suggest a vegan restaurant.

They can experience something new and different from their everyday diet and you don’t have to worry about leaving the event hungry. It’s a win-win situation.

Or you can check the menus of a couple of restaurants online, and pick a non-vegan one that has vegan options, so everyone can eat exactly what they want.

If you are not in the situation to choose a place, check the restaurant’s website before going there. That way you will know if you have to bring your food or if there are some vegan options (except French fries).

Mentioning French fries, beware that Mcdonald’s fries in the U.S. actually aren’t vegan, because they contain beef flavor derivated from milk.

If you are having a family gathering or plan on hanging out with friends, suggest meeting at your place. You can cook vegan food and show everyone just how delicious it is. You never know, you might even convert someone.

3. Bear in Mind That Non-Vegans Probably Don’t Know As Much About Nutrition As You Do and Encourage Their Interest in the Subject

If you are lucky the host might prepare something vegan, especially for you.

If that is the case, it is best to check what they were planning to cook and make sure all the ingredients are really plant-based, to avoid an inexperienced mistake.

Most omnivores aren’t educated on the matter and might, for example, think that honey is vegan.

It is better to make sure with the cook that everything they plan on using is truly plant-based than refuse to eat a finished dish they made especially for you with the best intentions.

An attempt to make a special meal for you requires time and energy and you should show gratitude to anybody who truly respects your lifestyle and goes out of their way to accommodate you.

4. Patience Is a Virtue

People will probably ask about your diet, lifestyle, and the reasons behind all of it. Be prepared for a lot of questions.

How do you get your protein? Are your blood test results good? Do you have enough energy throughout the day? Don’t plants have feelings too?

Most people are genuinely curious so, if you’re not tired of telling the same story over and over again, you should explain everything.

You might even be an inspiration to someone, so explain the benefits of your lifestyle to anyone who shows interest.

Questions can be sincere and a great opportunity to spread awareness and educate people on the subject. But jokes sometimes might be tiring.

You can always smile politely and let the person have some fun, but if the jokes offend you, don’t hesitate to tell them.

Don’t let anyone disrespect your lifestyle and beliefs. Openly share your feelings and kindly tell them to stop.

So, social events and family gatherings among non-vegans require a lot of patience and ready answers to an abundance of questions. There might be a couple of pointless jokes.

Patience is a virtue, but it has its limits. If at any moment you feel like you don’t wish to talk about your diet and life choices, feel free to express your feelings and change the subject.

If a joke, question, or comment feels insulting, respectfully but firmly put a stop to it.

5. Remember Why You Chose This Path

Last but definitely not least—you did not become a vegan to please other people, so there is no reason to let their opinions upset you.

You might have chosen this lifestyle for your health, the animals, the environment, or all of the above, but the reason behind it was probably never to satisfy other people.

So why should their unsolicited opinion of your personal beliefs and dietary habits have anything to do with you?

Sure, it can be quite annoying and tiring when someone starts asking you unreasonable questions or making mindless jokes.

But this should neither be a reason for you to stop being vegan and making such a positive change in the world nor should it stop you from loving and enjoying social events and family gatherings.

You can not control what other people think or say, but you can control the way you react to their comments. Both science and ethics are on your side, so don’t take their remarks too seriously.


Let’s make this holiday season the best one yet.

If you are going to a family gathering and the host is not offering to make a plant-based dish for you, cook your own meal.

Make it delicious and healthy and bring some extras to share with other guests. They will probably be surprised and enjoy it very much.

If you are having a social event with your coworkers or friends, suggest a restaurant that is either vegan or has vegan options.

If the place has already been chosen, check their menu online before you go. If you don’t like the options or if there aren’t any, prepare and bring your food.

Surprisingly (or not), food is not the biggest problem for those who pursue a plant-based lifestyle.

Non-vegans are the worst part of being vegan for a lot of vegans. But let’s try not to judge other people.

All (or at least a vast majority of) vegans were once non-vegans.

Most people don’t know about the benefits of a plant-based diet, the horrors of the meat, dairy, fur, and leather industry, and the devastating impact they have on our environment.

That’s why you should be patient and willing to educate them on the matter if they are interested.

Wouldn’t it be a great feeling if someone changed their lifestyle because you were a positive example?

Then again, there will always be ignorant people who refuse to hear the voice of reason.

If at any moment you feel offended and uncomfortable, openly tell them how you feel and that they should change the subject.

You have as much right to have a nice time as any other guest.

Either ignore their remarks and think about the positive impacts of your lifestyle or express your feelings and tell them to stop.

The important thing is not to let them ruin your social experience.

Family gatherings and social events should help us recharge and take a break from stressful everyday chores.

The content of your plate and your personal beliefs and values should not change that. Neither should someone’s comments.

In conclusion, make sure you won’t stay hungry at an event, and be polite and patient with anyone who wants to talk about your lifestyle but set clear boundaries on the remarks that make you uncomfortable.

And don’t forget to enjoy yourself and have a pleasant time, you deserve it.

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