My family has prepared the same meal for every holiday since I was a kid. A lot of the food has meat in it. Things like cabbage rolls – full of pig and cow – and a turkey are what my family looks forward to with extreme excitement. They make a huge deal about the meat and talk about it – a lot. In fact, they make it a central point of most holidays. As a vegan, it’s hard for me to know that my family is stuffing their face with animals, but there’s nothing I can do about it.
Sure, I could go into every holiday and throw on documentaries about the meat and dairy industry. I could rant and rave about why they shouldn’t eat meat. When they talk about how much they love animals, I could sarcastically point out that they don’t really love animals, they love pets. But, I don’t.
I keep my mouth shut and try to enjoy the company and the time to rest and relax.
I make vegan versions of all the dishes they make and bring them along so my husband and I can enjoy the dinner.
I don’t freak out when my family talks about how great their turkey tastes.
I do this because I know that they are never going to see the vegan light just because I want them to.
My Family Will Eat Vegan Food
The truth is that my family will eat vegan food. My parents even try to cook vegan meals once per month for my husband and me.
I also cook for them once a month. They always enjoy the meals and have good things to say about it.
I can’t count the number of times my father has said, ‘I could go vegan!’ after a meal at our house.
But, I don’t think they will ever go vegan.
They Don’t Care As Much As You Think They Should
One day my parents were over for supper and the subject of slaughtering animals came up as my husband talked about his childhood. My husband grew up in Italy, and his grandfather used to make him watch the pigs or chickens get slaughtered. The pigs and chickens were my husband’s friends. He took care of them. He enjoyed their little quirks and silly playfulness. And then he watched them scream in horror as they were getting slaughtered.
My dad casually mentioned that he has seen how pigs react to going to slaughter, and for a few days, he can’t eat meat. But, then, he followed that up with, “After a few days, I get over it and enjoy my bacon!”
I was shocked.
I couldn’t believe my dad, who has always said he loves animals, would say something so disgusting. I knew he wasn’t saying it to purposely be an asshole. I think he thought he was being funny.
I kept my cool and mentioned that pigs are smart animals – just as smart as our Schnauzer that my dad loves. My dad brushed it off and talked about how he likes his bacon crispy or he can’t eat it.
I Used To Not Care Too
While I’ve been a vegetarian pretty much my whole life, I never used to think about the meat or dairy industry. I didn’t like the thought of eating an animal or the texture of meat, but other than that, I stayed pretty ignorant to the whole thing.
I refused to educate myself because I didn’t want to know.
But, on some level, I knew that animals were suffering because of the meat and dairy industry – I just pushed it aside.
So, I get it. Everyone knows on some level what is happening and why meat and dairy are not as awesome as the meat and dairy industry wants you to believe. But everyone has the ability to push those thoughts out of their head and enjoy their ‘food’.
Moreover, some people just view animals as food and property which makes eating them and their products a no-brainer for them.
How I Deal With Being Vegan At A Holiday Full Of Meat
I know that nothing I say, do, or feel is going to change the minds of my family. They don’t have the same viewpoints towards animals and eating meat that I do.
When they pull out that dead turkey and get ready to ‘prepare’ it for dinner, they don’t see a dead animal and what it went through as I do.
They see dinner.
I can drive myself insane over it. I can yell, scream, and cry myself to death. I can cut them out of my life for being ignorant.
Or I can concentrate on being with my family, enjoying their company, and then enjoying the food that I feel good about eating.
I choose the latter. It just feels better to me and ensures that everyone has a good time.
I know that saying something is only going to make me upset. It won’t faze them. They have their own way of thinking and nothing I say is going to change that. My viewpoints are so different than theirs that they likely cannot resonate with them at all.
When they bring up how juicy their meat is, I let their words pass through my head like a cloud on a windy day. That way I don’t get worked up about it.
I have tried to show them how delicious it is to be vegan. I have causally pointed out some documentaries on health that might help them understand where I’m coming from… which they have never watched. I try to lead by example. And that’s all I can do.
It’s a holiday. I know that I won’t have many holidays left with some of my family members. I keep that mindset while I’m with them and I make it through the holiday just fine.