I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 5 years now — and, lately, I’ve been working really hard at choosing mostly vegan options. Overall, being a vegetarian was never a struggle for me — even in the beginning — because I felt ready and determined to stop eating meat. And even though I remain the only vegetarian/mostly vegan in my family (my family makes vegetarian choices quite frequently, but I’m the only full-time vegetarian/mostly vegan), I still find it easy to maintain my vegetarianism and, now, choose mostly vegan foods. The only time that I did find it hard was the first holiday season.
In my family, the holidays have always been the time of year when we cook and bake a lot, and on Christmas, our dinners always consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, and bread. Then there were the numerous turkey sandwiches afterward. Food, in general, has always been a big part of our holiday — probably because none of us drink or anything like that. So, that first holiday season of my vegetarianism I felt like I had lost one of our traditions by choosing to not eat turkey. I wanted so badly to be a vegetarian, but I also felt a bit like I lost something special by not eating what everyone else ate. I was fine with being a vegetarian throughout the year, but I felt like I wanted to make “exceptions” on holidays. Luckily my morals quickly shut those feelings down. It was more important to me that I didn’t eat meat, than “losing” a tradition. Then it dawned on me; I’m not missing out on anything. All I had to do was replace that one dish — while everything else remained the same. So, I made it through my first holiday season as a vegetarian and I’ve stuck with it ever since. And it hasn’t been a struggle at all!
Since becoming a vegetarian, I’ve added quite a few vegan dishes to my diet. And for the past year or so, I’ve been working hard at being mostly vegan. I’m obviously not perfect — sometimes I make mistakes, but I’m doing my best and it’s only going to get better from here! I feel ready to be 100% vegan! I know that by taking it slow and adjusting, then it’ll eventually just stick.
Making it through the holidays as a vegetarian or vegan is easy when you think about all the stuff that you can eat. Being a vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy what others eat; it just means that you can’t have certain things. And when you think about what you could replace those dishes with, then it really becomes kind of fun! It’s a bit more difficult as a vegan, but it can be done — and I know that from personal experience.
If you’re a new vegetarian or vegan who’s struggling through your first holiday as a vegetarian or vegan, I can’t recommend enough to stick with it. Even if it enters your mind that you could make an “exception” for the holidays, it’s not worth it. There’s not a day that goes by that I regret becoming a vegetarian. And I’m thankful that I now feel ready to take on veganism.