So, how did you survive your vegan Christmas? Unless you are hugely fortunate enough to have come from an entirely vegan family (and if so, can I come over next year? Please?!), the chances are that you ran into at least one awkward or uncomfortable moment due to your choice of lifestyle.
Personally, I went for Christmas day brunch to a restaurant and had to take all of my own food with me, but hey that's fine with me. At least I knew exactly what I was eating. The trickier part is usually the conversation – we've all been there, right? When sitting together with friends and family at a special occasion, the issue of your veganism is bound to crop up – whether through innocent and curious questions or towards the other, more negative side of the scale.
These kinds of conversations can be tough to deal with because it's nice not to have to get all controversial at family gatherings and spoil the atmosphere, right? So there can be a really fine line between answering questions politely and wanting to launch your Tofurkey up into Uncle Graham's face. It's hard to know the correct thing to do when your very values are being called into question, but you really don't want to ruin Christmas.
Times like this are when a level head and some prepared well-informed answers to the usual questions are key. What's the phrase - “Be the vegan you would have wanted to meet before you were a vegan”...it's a good one to keep in mind during these kinda tongue-biting moments.
This year I was visiting family and the man of the house asked me out of genuine curiosity as to how I feel when I watch wildlife shows and one animal is attacked by another. I calmly explained that veganism is about an opposition to the human exploitation of non-human animals. Then I was asked by my relative about why dairy is such an issue of contention. What on earth could be wrong with milking good old Bertha the cow and turning that milk into delicious cheeses?! Again I tried my best to keep my calm (OK, OK, I did use the term "rape rack") and mentioned a little bit about how factory farming is a million miles away from the old fashioned image of Old Macdonald on the friendly farm. It can be hard to keep your cool when the issues are so close to your heart and you know so much about the horrific practices which go on every day with the animals that you care about so much. But it's not worth rocking the boat at Christmas, especially with loved ones who you see very rarely.
On the plane home, I ended up seated next to a huge 6'9" giant. I mean he was the full-on carnivore, must have been at least 250 pounds of chunky man right there (luckily there was a free seat between us). It turned out that when he overheard me telling the cabin staff that I was vegan, he actually started asking some genuine questions, he was seriously interested. He even asked me what he should be eating – awesome! I adjusted the volume of my voice so that anyone in the rows in front or behind could tune in if they were also curious to learn.
I informed him that cows are mammals and as such need to stay pregnant in order to make milk and that those babies are constantly torn away from them. It still surprises me every time that this surprises someone. He willingly listened, and hopefully, one or two others on the plane did too, and hopefully a little bit of their mind was opened up and it made them think a little. So overall, it was a successful vegan Christmas for me, I hope yours was too – let's keep it up! For all of those minds and hearts that we open, 200 animals are saved every year! <3
Photo credit: Flickr / Amy Gahran