The holiday season, which includes Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year bashes, can be overwhelming for anyone, but for vegetarians, vegans or gluten-free , there are certain challenges to be faced.
When you’re vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free, these bashes can be difficult to navigate. Chicken stock can be hiding various appetizers, or bacon could be lurking in the salad. You don’t want to show up and realize that you can only enjoy the rolls or take a bite of food and try to figure out exactly what you are eating.
These survival tips will help you to navigate the through the culinary and emotional aspects of the holiday season.
Inform your host of your dietary chose
Tell your host ahead of time that you are vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. Sometimes this crucial step is overlooked by a lot of people. Remember this is a busy time of year for most people and a last minute change to the menu may not be possible. Better yet, if you are not very familiar with your host ask for his or her contact information and let him/her know of your needs.
Be specific about your food choices
Because most people beliefs that vegetarians don’t eat red meat, so poultry and fish would be okay. If you do eat poultry or fish that would be fine, but if not you don’t want to be surprised with “I thought chicken or fish would be okay for you”. Most side dishes are made with animal products so be clear so everyone can plan accordingly.
Be a subtly persuasive guest
If you think your food choices are going to be limited, volunteer to bring a main dish or side. Bring plenty of what you make, as everyone will want to try your dish.
Veganizing old favorites
As emotionally tense as the holidays can get, at its best, it can be comforting and nostalgic. Aside from how great it feels to enjoy an old family favorite, showing others that you can still have them without it being about sacrifice and deprivation.
Veggies and fruits center stage
Give seasonal produce a bigger role in your holiday fare than starches and sweets. Use an abundance of hardy fall vegetables, including a variety of squashes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables, the cruciferous vegetables, and fresh greens. Use lots of seasonal fruits (apples, pears, oranges, cranberries — on their own and in desserts) to reduce temptation to overdo sugary sweets.
Be a fabulous host
Consider hosting your own holiday gathering. It doesn’t have to be an 8-course meal that will leave you exhausted and broke. Do something simpler; think of appetizers and wine buffet, or a mid-day brunch. Both of these options can be lots of fun. No matter what kind of event you’re hosting, also inquire about your guests’ food allergies in advance.
If you’re vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free share some of your holiday tips with us in the comment section.