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Ah, it’s finally Christmas. A time to relax with your friends and family, watch films, drink wine, and eat. Except, as a new vegan, this can all seem quite intimidating. Unless you’re surrounded by like-minded people, making the choice to maintain a completely cruelty-free diet and lifestyle can seem like a bit of a mission at Christmas time.

4 Essential Tips for Surviving (and Enjoying) Christmas as a New Vegan

4 Essential Tips To Survive Christmas As A New Vegan

1. How to explain your decision to go vegan to people who don’t get it.

Well, firstly, it’s important to realize that not everyone is going to understand your new vegan lifestyle. Many people are becoming more open-minded to the vegan lifestyle, but it is not a change that is going to happen overnight. Now, you can choose to fight your case (this may become more appealing with each new glass of bubbly, beware) or, you can choose to calmly explain why you have decided to make this lifestyle choice and then move the conversation on. The important thing is that you are happy with your decision.

4 Essential Tips To Survive Christmas As A New Vegan

2. How to deal with all the temptation

As a new vegan, avoiding the two big C’s (chocolate and cheese) can seem like a daunting task. Especially at Christmas time, when the cheese board is rolled out after dinner and boxes of chocolates are on offer throughout the day. The answer is to simply, stock up. Make sure you have a good stash of all your favorite vegan alternatives. The best part of this is if you’re the only vegan in the family you don’t have to share! You can gobble up all that cruelty-free goodness for yourself, or if you’re feeling particularly charitable (it is Christmas after all), you can offer that great aunt a try. You might just get her hooked!

Supermarket giants (Tesco and Sainsburys in the UK, Whole Foods Market and Wegmans in the U.S.) have some great vegan cheese options and we would definitely advise building up a supply of vegan chocolate Vego bars for the big day. Also, if you’re struggling with the lead up, there are some excellent vegan advent calendar options to choose from!

4 Essential Tips To Survive Christmas As A New Vegan

3. How to have a vegan Christmas feast

For many families, everything revolves around Christmas dinner on the 25th. As a new vegan, this may be the part you are most dreading, but it doesn’t need to be that way! Ultimately, Christmas is not about the turkey, ham or the brussels sprouts; it’s about being gathered together with your loved ones to celebrate. In the spirit of togetherness, you could offer to help the chef and cook your own meat-free substitute or just enjoy a plate full of delicious veggies and gravy. If you opt for the first option, you could even involve the whole family and put a sample on everyone’s plate – Tofurky is a great alternative!

4 Essential Tips To Survive Christmas As A New Vegan

4. Just enjoy yourself!

By the time next year rolls around you’ll be a super confident vegan hero. Trust. Everyone feels wobbly at first, especially at big family events, with many deep-set meat and dairy based culinary traditions taking center stage.

Giving back to the planet and the animals this festive season is the best present of all. So, eat, drink and be merry. You’re doing great.