Behavior of a Vegetarian During Holidays or Family Reunions

Karen Leibovitz

From personal experience. How did my family react? When I told my parents that I was now a vegan, I was glad to see that they supported my decision. My grandparents, aunts, uncles are a completely different story. For them, this meant changing the traditional family holiday menus, so they hesitated and felt somewhat resentful. The first time I brought up the topic of veganism was during a family reunion, when my grandmother noticed that I didn’t take the turkey. All of a sudden, the whole family started asking me questions.

What to do with it? In such a situation, it is important to consider that hints of disapproval from family members should be taken as comfort: your family cares about your health and only wants the best for you. If they are not familiar with vegan nutrition, they may fear for your health. It is important not to feel humiliated and to acknowledge that a vegan diet can be stigmatized in the prejudiced minds of non-vegans, especially if they are unaware of its benefits and think people should eat meat and dairy. They just care about you and your health.

In my experience, here’s what worked best. First, I told my family why I became a vegan and that there is scientific evidence that vegan diets contain essential nutrients. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that, “A properly planned vegetarian diet is healthy, contains essential nutrients, and provides health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

I assured my relatives that I carefully consider my daily food choices to make sure I get all the nutrients I need. This may include shopping for calcium-fortified foods, as well as eating a variety of foods. Your family will also be happy to hear that dietary changes are linked to healthy lifestyle choices.

Practical suggestions. Make your own alternative meat dish, the family will feel better. It took the burden off my grandparents, who were reluctant to cook an extra meal for just one person.

Treat your relatives to a meat substitute or other protein-rich plant-based food, such as a bean burger, your family will be proud of you and benefit from your new hobby. As a vegan, you may sometimes feel like you’re a burden to those who cook for family reunions. Show your family that you’re healthy and happy with veganism, and address their concerns because that’s usually their main concern.  


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