The Vegan’s Holiday Dilemma

Unless you’re some lucky stiff who lives in a commune and works for PETA, the holidays can be especially stressful for vegans. And we’re not the only ones. Those with health conditions that require a special diet or those who simply choose to eat healthy are also feeling the heat. 


Despite all that talk of goodwill toward others, it seems there is even more pressure to “eat normal” (which is a slang term meaning “eat unhealthy shit”) during this time.

Go to work and there are bowls of candies on desks and treats on break room tables. And some well-meaning soul gifts you with his/her homemade goodies that you accept graciously (because how can you not), then search for a way to dump without being seen.

Then there is the holiday celebration.

Holiday parties are easy. No one will notice you’re not eating or drinking. Nurse a glass of water and leave early.

These broccoli poppers are amazing! In fact, I’ve yet to try a Brad’s snack that I didn’t love. 

If your work group chooses to dine out together (or your controlling admin assistant decides that’s what you’ll do), you may get to order one of those crappy salads that tell the world you don’t believe in Santa Claus.

If the group does a potluck, you’ll end up eating that thing you brought to share, unless there happens to be another healthy eater within your group.  While you chew on your raw veggies and whole wheat bread, you can cringe while watching your cohorts devour plates piled high with casseroles, creamed this and that, and topped off with a cream dessert. My arteries are already clogging just thinking about it.

Date balls!

You want to take part, but you also don’t want to compromise your principles and/or throw away all that hard work you’ve put in for months. If you go back to the junk now, it will be so much harder to start back up eating healthy come January. Don’t do it!

Some tips for making this a less stressful time include:

Support your co-workers who are also choosing to eat healthy by mutually agreeing to bring foods appropriate for each of you.

Eat beforehand. I know, everyone says do this, but it really does help.

Have prepared answers to, “Aren’t you eating?” “Here, try this,” and “It won’t hurt this one time.” You know they’re coming. Be ready.


Have you tried these? They are so good! Check them out at 

Use positive affirmations that remind yourself why you’re eating the way you are. I deserve to be healthy. I feel good when I eat healthy. I feel good about myself as a vegan.

Here are some treats you can share to stimulate the celebration without caving into the pressure:

Nuts, preferably low-salt or salt-free, are a good source of protein, healthy fats and no added sugar.

Roasted chickpeas.  Oh man, are these good! My favorite is those roasted with Moroccan spices. Here’s a link to the recipe.

Fresh fruits and veggies! Veggies are low-glycemic and a good source of vitamins. Fruits are a sweet substitute for all that chocolate and candy floating around.

Date balls are not for the diabetic, but for vegans wanting a sugary substitute for all that chocolate and pastry hanging out, they are a fantastic option. I bought some at Wal-Mart in the produce department.

Make your own treats. You can veganize most baking recipes using applesauce for part of the fat and flax seed for eggs. There are some great vegan bloggers out there who can show you the way and provide you with tasty recipes to try and share.

You can do this! Then come January when those around you are whining about needing to get healthy, you can smugly smile because you’re already there. It’ll be so worth it.




36 thoughts on “The Vegan’s Holiday Dilemma

  1. I agree .. I bought vegetable spring rolls and they added porks fat, probably for the taste… sigh… I will try to get the bumble bars… the name sounds good and I currently would need some energy:o)

  2. I love the sound of those chickpeas – I must give that a go!

    I can be difficult when you don’t want to eat the festive fare that everyone else is eating. My biped says it’s sometimes hard to be polite when people are urging her to eat more, or to have something more interesting – interesting from their point of view, but the thought of which makes her feel sick!

  3. Eating before you go is key. It’s so much easier when you aren’t starving. I’m not vegan but I eat healthy. It got the point at work where I didn’t eat anything for the birthdays and celebrations because I swear the stuff was toxic. They would take perfectly good veggies and dump multiple cans of cream soup on them. My gut doesn’t do heavy dishes. Yikes!

  4. I am dairy and gluten free for so many years now and I don’t eat anything with 4 legs. Always makes for fun party going (not). Good suggests. People are pushers because they really don’t understand since they eat or drink stuff. Good for you for sticking to what is best for you! I just found coconut milk eggnog.

      1. We got that one too. I put in in the coffee because it is so sweet. Enjoy. And glad to share my book of Vegan holiday yummies sometime.

  5. I actually have the most supportive co-workers ever. While only two of them are vegetarian, the whole bunch of them makes sure to bring something vegan when they bring treats, for the Christmas parties they checked with the restaurants beforehand if they have vegan options and when all of us bring something for a potluck breakfast, I can be sure that at least 75% of everything on the table will be vegan. I got really lucky and I appreciate it.

  6. Even if you’re not a vegan it’s hard to eat sensibly this time of year! Thanks for sharing the chickpeas recipe. I’m definitely gonna try that. As a vegetarian, I’m always on the hunt for healthful tasty snacks/side dishes.

  7. I love all your ideas. I found out last year that I’m allergic to wheat, dairy, eggs, and peanuts. I also try to reduce my meat consumption, I call myself a “flexi-vegan”. I bring a spinage salad with almonds, crasins, and homemade dressing to any potluck event, most people are appreciative for the fresh, healthy option. But alas, have no will power and indulged in the holiday festivities like everybody else. I even risk my life on a regular basis by eating things I’m allergic to. I wish I had the same resolve and will power but I’m working on it. I may have to tighten my “all things in moderation” approach. Thanks for the extra push.

    1. I don’t know your particular situation, but I would encourage you to not be so hard on yourself. What you’re working to change are habits you’ve developed over a lifetime, and have been ingrained in you by constant advertising and societal pressures. It’s hard. And yet it’s important you strive to make those changes. You have an even greater incentive to do so because the effects of eating certain foods are direct. I may not see the effects right away, but that heart attack or stroke are not too far on the horizon for me if I go back to eating the way I have before.

      Over the holidays I saw two relatives who have had heart attacks. Their eating habits have not changed one bit. It’s their choice. I want to make choices that are positive for me. Here’s hoping they will eventually be encouraged by my actions to also make changes in their lives.

      1. Yes. Family history was an incentive for me before the food allergies. Almost every adult in my family is obese and has hypertension and/of diabetes. My cousin died at the age of 22 from a diabetic coma, she was morbidly obese. It’s why I became a health and PE teacher vs physical therapist. My changes have trickled down to my family and we continue to support each other even though we are not perfect.

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