The Holidays are wonderful, because especially as grown ups, its the only time of the year that almost everyone of the family gets together. But the Holidays are also tough because when we spend so much time with our family, the best and the worst can come out. Oftentimes differences become issues and sometimes they even turn into arguments. As a vegan in a non vegan family, it’s always a bit daunting because there is a sort of fear of getting into endless conversations about why I don’t eat animals.
It’s an interesting conflict because most of us were not born vegan and we grew up with certain foods, especially around the Holidays, that we associate with family and celebration. Switching to a vegan diet means we chose not to share these foods anymore with our other family members. Instead of being sad about that or seeing it as offensive, I really see it as enriching because it’s the occasion to introduce new foods and dishes and share them with our loved ones. Habits and traditions are great but change is healthy and essential, especially when change comes from a profound feeling of compassion.
The Holidays are not the time of the year to try to convert your family members into being vegan. I think that a lot of people that follow a vegan/plant-based diet can get into this reflex of ‘preaching’ about it. Eating plant based and living vegan is not a doctrine for me but it’s rather a choice that I made because it is more in line with my personal beliefs and convictions, and ultimately it makes me happy. It’s totally OK to share these thoughts, even at the Christmas table but it’s not OK to make people feel bad if they don’t follow this life style. I think that this leads to conflict and explains why some vegans have a reputation.
It all comes down to compassion. I live my life the way I consider it to be the best for myself. I would love for other people to understand the benefits of eating plant based and realize how they help animals and the environment as well if they follow a vegan lifestyle. But my job is not to convert, it’s to share, sometimes educate and often just interact over these topics. Because change and realization can only come from within.