(NaturalNews) With the holidays starting to bear down on you, you are probably making plans for your holiday celebrations. For those of you who are entering into your first holiday season on a restricted diet of some sort (vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan) there could be some difficult decisions ahead of you. You may be inclined to hide away from friends and family and stay home where you don't have to worry about being chastised for, and quizzed about, your personal health decisions. If family doesn't live close this may be easy, but if you have family that is within travel distance, you may be experiencing a certain amount of pressure to be present at their holiday festivities.
The hard part is always the food situation. Even if you are vegetarian (which some find easier to have a social life with) it may be difficult to educate the people cooking on what is and isn't considered vegetarian. You may be exposed to (or have already experienced) more than one occasion where you are unable to eat a particular dish because of the addition of a "small amount" of some animal product. There may be a lot of shrugs and comments that consist of "there's only a little bit in there, you should be fine." A lot of people find that if they intend to eat anything other than side dishes it is important to plan ahead and bring their own meals as well as anything else they were expected to bring (a salad, desert or their famous side dish).
Now if you are a vegan or raw vegan you may find you are presented with an even more difficult dilemma. Before you became a vegan/raw vegan it was acceptable to eat the stuff that was vegetarian but not vegan or raw (cheese for example). Now you have chose to only eat vegan or raw items, which means no baked brie. Your family may seem to grasp this in theory, but when they start creating that particular holiday meal this might change. If you stop and look at the menu, almost all the items end up being cooked in some way or another with something that qualifies them as non-vegan. So you are left bringing our own meals or the raw ingredients to create the food (but then you have to find kitchen space and a sharp knife). If you have ever made a full meal for two to four people and carted it to a family member's house then you are familiar with how inconvenient it can be. You have to really plan out your day to make sure that you are up early enough to get everything ready, get everyone in the car and make the trip (making sure that all the food makes it in one piece too). This can be quite a daunting task.
The other option, if it's available is to find a holiday gathering of like-minded people that has been set up, like a potluck. Then you only have to bring one or two items, you get a full meal and you can enjoy the company of people who have similar nutritional goals and values. This option can be very intimidating if you do not know anyone even if you bring your significant other. You don`t want to appear to only be interested in talking to each other but you may also find it difficult to break the ice with a group of people that already know each other. It can also be difficult explaining to your family that you are choosing to spend that particular holiday with a group of strangers. Striking that balance is something that seems to require a little finesse.
Another thing to take into consideration is children. If your children are living the same lifestyle as you and you go to a family members house for the holidays, how do you convey the importance to grandma that your child is not to eat dairy, cookies or whatever else the item might be? A lot of people think it`s okay and undermine your diet choices for your child without even realizing that`s what they are doing; undermining you. This is a concern that many parents have when taking their children to any type of holiday gathering.
The best thing you can do is trust yourself. Do what you are most comfortable with and don't worry about making everyone else happy. Talk to people who live similar lifestyles and see how they cope (even if it is just through internet communities). During the year attend potlucks or activities that resonate with you and your lifestyle choices so that you get to know people, then come the holidays you can attend the holiday activities and be surrounded by friends and acquaintances. Through-out the year educate your family and friends. Hold potlucks at your home and invite friends and family to come try the foods you enjoy on a regular basis. Most importantly be proactive. If this is a new lifestyle choice for you, make your own meal and cart it around to whatever event you decide to go to (or eat before you go) and enjoy your family and friends. It is important that your health choices don't alienate you from your loved ones. Personal connections make life worth living and help elongate life. Be gentle with yourself, if you deviate a little from your goals to enjoy your family and friends, there is always tomorrow to rectify it.
About the author
Phoebe Kerr is a mom, and a writer and researcher in her spare time. Nap time is when she reads and does the homework on whatever class she is taking that month. A majority of her researching pertains to her life experience at that given time. Her extensive knowledge and resources range from animal nutrition to alternative healing modalities such as homeopathy and herbalism to alternative child rearing. Phoebe has always been drawn to the natural world. Growing up in a rural town in Vermont gave her a deep seated love and respect for nature and the natural world. She attended university for Biology but in 2005 after starting her graduate studies in Agriculture had a large upheaval and her life took a different path. Her father-in-law was diagnosed with ALS resulting in the relocation of her and her partner to be close to his family. That was when her passion for healing the body was ignited. Since that time, her father-in-law has passed, but her desire for knowledge and helping others through education or hands on healing of loved ones had just begun to unfold.