Surviving non-vegan events can be hard, especially around the holidays when the irony of celebrating peace and love by eating dead animals is lost on everyone but you. Thankfully, De-anna Edmondson has prepared the ultimate guide so you can survive omni events with a vegan smile.
So the time has come where invites are flying around for holiday events. Lunches, barbeque dinners, family bring-your-own food gatherings, whatever it may be – you have been invited. As a single vegan, with absolutely no other vegan family members I come to dread certain outings. Since attending loads of family gatherings as a vegan I have acquired some tips to survive.
My all time favourite live-by tips are:
Make some delicious vegan food!
Ask around to see which accidentally vegan meals were prepared.
As I’ve come to realise, my family members do not add animal products to every meal out of spite.
Many times I have asked around and found out that the roast veggies were oiled and marinated in garlic, not butter, or that the Asian Cabbage Salad and Chocolate Rice Crackles were also accidentally vegan. Dinner and dessert sorted by simply asking! Although I don’t always rely on the kindness and choices of dishes from family members, it’s nice to have a chat, considering many of them go out of their way to subside adding butter or feta knowing about your arrival.
If indeed baking or cooking isn’t your forte, then bring some deliciously accidentally vegan treats. (Any suggested are all palm oil free/sustainable in Australia)
This one may be my favourite tip, because it gives you the excuse of buying extras for your cupboard.
Your local supermarket is a fiend of vegan accidents.
Woolworths Supermarket/Coles Supermarket. (All Palm Oil in Woolworth’s Homebrand is sustainable):
-Dips; Black Swan Hummus with Garlic Olive Oil and Black Swan Sweet Potato with Coriander.
-Crackers/Chips; Missions Corn Chips, any flavour without milk of course.
-Homebrand Mini Vegetable Spring Roles.
-Homebrand Garlic Bread.
-Sanitarium So Good – Chocolate Bliss Ice Cream and Vanilla Bliss Ice Cream.
-Any type of Leda biscuits.
-Arnott’s Lemon Crisps, Choc Ripple and Raspberry Shortcake biscuits.
I wouldn’t recommend bringing the whole list along to an event, but keeping them in mind for future events is a must. So many people I know are surprised at what is accidentally cruelty-free! There are many lists online pertaining to individual supermarkets in your own country, so having a quick Google will give more to choose from! You can always make your own, as well!
Surviving the dreaded (anti-)vegan jokester
Okay so this one I know too well. Do you ever feel that there’s one omnivore who has a radar set on ‘Vegans’ and pushes his or her way through the crowd to find you and ask the ever-dreaded joke? ‘How do you know someone’s Vegan? Don’t worry they’ll tell you!’
So I’m assuming you know this joke quite well. I’ve developed some polite techniques on how to defuse the situation so it works in your favour.
Techniques Against Anti-Vegan Jokes:
Generally I respond with a throwaway comment, for example;
“That is such an original joke.”
“You should do stand-up.”
“How long have you been waiting to use that joke?”
Granted I have only been told this joke once by my loving brother, who seems to use me for the bunt of his vegan jokes.
This repartee generally shuts off any more jokes noting that omnivores get rather uncomfortable with the truth.
Facts such as;
“Funny, I didn’t know you were a baby cow.”
“Protein? It’s funny that you’ve never asked me about my health before?”
“No I’m not also gluten-free, I just enjoy letting other beings live.”
“Calcium is not only from cows milk, as I’m sure we would have died out years ago.”
“No I’m not pale because of any deficiencies, I’m pale because my Omnivore friends don’t invite me out anywhere…”
Dealing with those comments, such as:
“Humans were meant to survive on meat.”
Response: “You do know you’re talking to a living vegan right?”
“I could never do it, milk and cheese is just too damn good. I’d die without them.”
Respond with a straight face:
“Well because of you calves have to.”
“I could never date a vegan, they’re just too judgemental.”
Respond sarcastically with: “Yeah, I hate when they ask you where you get your protein from” (then give them the stink-eye).
“But if we don’t eat animals they’ll take over the world”
Response: Face palm… Or patiently remind them farmed animals are only bred to be eaten – that supply follows demand.
“But if you were on a deserted island, and there were only animals, would you?”
Response: “If you lived in a world where there are alternatives for every animal product and you would be saving the planet and countless animals lives, would you?”
Most of the time I receive dull comments like “don’t you miss this and that” to which I’d recommend replying with, “No, because I can still eat that but veganised.” But on the off chance that response leads to criticism and a billion questions, it’s best to succinctly explain you enjoy a diverse, full diet that makes you feel good about your choices.
The Gluten-Free/Organic confusion
To many times ‘gluten-free’ or ‘organic’ has been paired or even confused with veganism. Generally this happens when you call ahead and ask about vegan options or whether they are willing to cater, and they respond with ‘Yep, we have plenty of gluten-free/organic options’. This is a hard one because you really don’t want to spend every lunch or dinner catch-up with the options of ‘Garden Salad’ or ‘Chips’. The best way to handle this is to be open and let them know of your dietary-requirements and ask if they are willing to cater for you.
The allergy card
So this is probably the most useful tip. I love going to places with unexpected vegan options, like Salsas, Subway, McDonalds, Hungry Jacks etc. Usually I have a quick search online and check out the ingredients, but this only works with franchises. When you go to a restaurant or a café with your friends for a catch-up, it’s not stated whether the mayo is accidentally vegan or whether the falafel has egg in it. My useful tip is to pull out the allergy card. While it sucks having to lie, you may have to fake an egg or milk allergy, knowing the restaurant will take your request more seriously. For example “Hi, I’m allergic to dairy and egg, does the falafel you serve contain egg or milk?” Short and sweet!
When jokes or questions turn to abuse
Unfortunately and very rarely, people’s natural curiosity or defensiveness may turn into abuse. In these situations, it’s best not to fuel the fire. Step back from the conversation and realise you or them getting upset or causing a scene won’t look good for anyone. At this time, it’s best to remove yourself tactfully and quietly from the situation. If the tone or moment allows, a comment excusing yourself should remind them that your veganism isn’t hurting anyone, unlike their meat-eating or argumentative nature. Try, “I just want to live my life without hurting other animals, and I don’t want to have to defend that anymore. You’re upsetting me and I’m going to walk away if we can’t talk about this civilly.”
In conclusion, I’ll admit that the best way to survive is to respond politely and give the antagonists the straight facts, while remembering why educating them is helping the movement. Remember your mere presence plants the seeds of veganism, and you never know who you’ll influence.
The one thing I always here from other vegans is; “I wish I had done it sooner.” Remember that you’re giving people the chance to learn and embrace a vegan lifestyle, so be prepared, patient and persistent, and don’t take any abuse. Good luck!