How to Do Meatless Christmas

Traditionally, Christmas is a time of family, friends, love, and laughter. But, talk to a person following any form of a meatless diet and you will probably be met with the words “stressful”, “anxious”, or “worried”. Why? Similar to the blog I wrote at Thanksgiving (click here to read it), these individuals have a bit of a tougher time with the holiday season because 1) most of the events around Christmas revolve around food and 2) the meals that are shared at these events are usually centred around a meat of some sort.

What I would like to do with this blog is help you navigate the Christmas holidays within the context of dinners and help prevent any unnecessary emotional, social, and mental stress that may come along!

One thing that helps is taking time to better understand the rationale and purpose behind your choice to not consume meat. Not only is this a wonderful opportunity to self-reflect, this will help ground you in your decisions and identify the rigidity by which you stick to it. Ultimately, the question that you should be able to answer for yourself is how much do I value this behaviour and do I value it enough to have to strategize for events such as Christmas dinner(s)? Doing so will build a repertoire of conversation points and responses if your family or friends ask questions about your choices. Realistically, it is binary in that you can choose to continue to not eat meat or be content with eating the turkey or ham (or whatever meat may be present). Keep in mind, there is no “right answer” to any of this; the “right answer” is whichever one you land on that you feel the most comfortable with and will be happy with in the long term. You are the only one who gets to decide this, despite any comments you might get thrown your way as a result.

Some strategies to utilize for a meatless Christmas (keep in mind, some of these are recycled because they work really well!):

1) BYOP (Bring your own protein): a tasty substitution for turkey or ham is seitan, a food similar in texture to both that is made with wheat gluten. The exact same flavours used on turkey and ham can be used for seitan to match the taste. I challenge any meat-eater to try it and see what you think! You can:

  • Make your own seitan OR
  • Purchase a seitan roast from your local grocery store or supermarket

Another one you could bring is tempeh or tofu, two soy products that are as much a blank slate as seitan. These options take a bit less time and effort to prepare and are a bit more versatile across different dishes. Here are a couple dishes from our wellness hub My Viva Inc that you could use:

2) Attending someone else’s dinner or party? Ask them to prepare a separate protein. If you explain where you are coming from, people are often understanding and appreciative of individual choices. Recall what I talked about above about being grounded in your decisions. Contact your host well in advance to allow them time to prepare something for you in case they are not familiar with alternative protein sources. You may even help out someone else.

3) Forgot to have a game-plan ready and are stuck at meal-time? If the above two points did not work, make a meal from the side dishes! Do your best to maintain balance within the meal but allow yourself to be content with not achieving balance too. Your meal may be a bit lower in protein (not saying it will be), but overall, it will not have much of an impact so long as the meals before and in the day after are balanced.

4) Still stuck? Reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram. I am always happy to help someone who is in a bind and needs a quick tip or wants to ask a question!

I think one of the most impactful tips that I can offer is this: THINK AHEAD. Even if you just work it out in your head and do not write anything on paper, it will relieve a ton of stress down the road if you take the time to anticipate what could happen. There is an abundance of products, recipes, and kindness in the world that you can use to figure something out by yourself or ask someone else for help. Do not let the fear of someone else’s judgement get in the way of you maximizing your enjoyment of the holiday season! That is their problem, not yours. One horrible thing you can do for your mental health is give “regret” a chance to show its face afterwards.

The Revive family is always here to help you work these situations out. Please take advantage of our services or social media accounts if you need assistance with any of this, now or in the future.