Surviving Thanksgiving (as a Healthy Vegetarian)

thankful for vegetarians

Happy Monday, Friends! Brooke here. Thanksgiving is just around the corner . . . so close I can taste it (but not the turkey, of course!). A day devoted to gratitude, love, and sharing a delicious meal is a beautiful one, appealing to our better natures and reminding us to give thanks for our blessings. Plus, every now and then, a much better cook than you ends up doing most the cooking for everyone—jackpot!!

You may wonder how vegetarians manage to find a square meal during such a meat-centric holiday as Thanksgiving. Never fear! We veggies are a creative and resourceful lot, accustomed to finding our own way around buffet tables and family gatherings. When one chooses to take a road less traveled, one must rely on oneself for rations and supplies. As many vegetarians or vegans already know, you cannot expect your family and friends, no matter how loving, to cater to you alone when Thanksgiving dinner is served.  So help them out, ok?

Be a Gracious Guest

  • Ask your host or hostess what you can bring to dinner. Simply asking what you can do to help may relieve an enormous amount of pressure for your dinner planner. There’s a very good chance she’s been concerned about your meatless meal. And if you make your offer even before she asks you about your dietary preferences, you may become her favorite dinner guest ever!
  • Bring a healthy, veggie-friendly dish of your own. I would suggest doing this, even if your host tells you to just bring yourself and your appetite. This is a win-win for everyone involved: 1) you will actually have something clean to eat if you discover everything at the table is spiked with chicken stock or other “natural flavors” (more common than you think); 2) your impeccable manners will be noted and appreciated—you may even get an invite back next year; and 3) you can prove to any naysayers (usually these are family members) that your clean, compassionate food is much more delicious than the wallpaper paste that they all suspect it tastes like. Go ahead—wow ‘em!
  • Eat a snack beforehand. If the big meal is hours away and your stomach’s already growling, be sure to eat a little snack to tide you over. You don’t want your healthy eating to be destroyed when your plunging blood sugar drives you to fall crazily upon the sweet potato casserole! A nice green juice or smoothie plus some nuts or trail mix are excellent options—the veggies and fruit lift your energy while the protein and healthy fat in the nuts help fill you up and slow down that appetite. Another idea is Greek yogurt mixed with fresh berries and nuts or a protein shake with almond milk and a piece of fruit, such as a banana, grapes, or apple. This plan also works for weddings and other functions, where the promise of food is vaguely (cruelly) dangled sometime after the main event.
  • Be smart when you fill your plate. Mindful portion control (and healthy snacking ahead of time) is the key to avoiding the dreaded holiday food binge. Help yourself generously to green salad (and less generously to the dressing), steamed or sautéed vegetables, greens (if not cooked in meat stock), and the relish dish. Ah, what memories . . . the relish dish and I have become indifferent friends over the years. “Oh, look—something I can eat. Raw broccoli and carrots again . . . yippee.” You need more fuel than just green veggies, so have a moderate helping of quinoa or couscous if they’re around (maybe they will be, since you brought them!), rice, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or stuffing if it’s meat- and meat stock-free (that’s a big if, usually). As for dessert, go ahead and enjoy a slice of your favorite pie. It’s Thanksgiving after all, people. Live a little! If you’ve been eating clean in your everyday life, you can handle a little holiday fun. Just keep your helpings in control, enjoy, and don’t feel guilty. The Stepmill will be waiting for you when you get back home.
  • Grin and bear it. If all else fails and you arrive at dinner without a meat-free or healthy fallback, do the best you can and do it with a BIG smile. Be kind and gracious if anyone voices concerns on your behalf—you don’t want to ruin dinner, do you? “Are you kidding? These green beans are amazing! And this cornbread is delish!” See? It’s easy.

May you always run out of time before you finish counting your blessings,

Brooke

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: