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Holiday Dinner at Carnivore's Home - Help!

Hi, everyone, new here. Have officially been vegan for six wonderful, energy packed months! I feel ten years younger. Look pretty good too, have lost 50 pounds, almost to goal weight. This is my problem: We, family and I (I am the only vegan in the house, but they eat vegan meals 3-4 nights a week) are staying with hubby's sister and her husband for Thanksgiving for 4 days. Sister is very confrontational and thinks everything should be done her way. She is very overweight (just had heart bypass at age 44) and cooks everything with butter/lard/meat/processed foods. I have never felt so good! I am not willing to eat what they serve. How do I respond to these people trying to tell me that I should eat like they do?! I am not a weak personality but don't want to fight with these people for my family's sake. I will not back down - I am a vegan for life. How to politely deal with this situation without being bullied?

You don't have to eat what they serve, and you don't HAVE to explain yourself! However, if you want to discuss it with them, you can just be honest with your reasons. Explain to them why you decided to be vegan initially (health, animal welfare, environment, whatever), how it has made you feel since, and why you will continue to be vegan. You can just politely explain these things, and if they then choose to "bully" you, go elsewhere!

Take some of your own favorite foods to eat and/or share. :)

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Just do what you do and don't talk about her choices.  If you feel like trying, I sometimes do, I deflect criticism and when the other person talks about how great their omni "food" is, I direct them to talking about seasoning blends, since it's an area where I may learn something I can use in my very occasional cooking.

Plan some easy to make food to bring with you:  oatmeal for breakfast, pb& j sandwich/salad/plan-to-eat-out for lunch, and get accidentally vegan things from a deli (pasta salad, bean salad, grains, etc.) if she has a problem with you using her kitchen to make food.  On top of that, once you're there, go to a store and pick up a bag of mixed greens and fruit to share.  It won't be the best four food days of your life, but if she's controlling, those types of food will keep her from exerting too much control over you.  Also, if she's that unhealthy, bring vegan deserts to share.  Fill a gallon-sized ziploc with a few different types of cookies (all white flour, no healthy desserts).

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Such a shame that so many people forget the purpose of gather for Thanksgiving.  The central focus has become the food.  Such a shame you have such apprehension.  I say bring your own food.  Find a nice local market so you can stay stocked on fruits, nuts, and veggies and you won't impose on her kitchen.  Apologize to the hostess and explain your reasons.  Then you eat your food while the others are served theirs and you can get around to enjoying each other as well as the food.  I hope you are able to have a nice time.

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bring some tasty dishes with if you can... you lost 50 pounds! she should be following YOUR LEAD and asking you for healthy recipes! stay strong, what you are doing is obviously working... i find a good way to not be confrontational ESPECIALLY WHEN EATING is to say when asked why you are vegan or whatever is to say, "It just makes me feel so HAPPY"... who can argue with that?

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Perhaps politely inform her that you want to help with the cooking by bringing things from home.  After all, you are adding several people to her work load for 4 days and you do not want to be a burdon.  Frame everything as being helpful to her and making her life easier, after all, after her surgery, you do not want to add stress to her life  ;)  Do you have kids that you can claim are picky eaters?  If so, you are trying to keep them from causing problems for her.  Or admit you are a picky eater since changing your eating habits and loosing weight.  You just have lost your taste for a lot of meaty/greasy things.  No need to argue philosophy, you just want to eat something you like and enjoy family too. 

I went through a phase with my in-laws where I was still omni but eating much healthier and I was accused by a diabetic in-law of making others suffer during the holidays by not wanting to cook/bake a lot of fatty, starchy stuff and even offered her recipes for her to make (she refused).  Now I did make some, just not stuff the turkey, a side dish of dressing,  home made dinner rolls, potato casserole, mashed potatoes . . .  plus 5 desserts for my family of 5 + 2 diabetic guests. 

You will not win if you want to make it a conflict.  As a dear friend of mine used to say, "work with them to defeat them".  If your "win" is adequate food and good family time, it may happen if you play your cards right.

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I forgot.  If you have room, maybe bring some breakfast muffins or make cinnamon rolls to share.  I'm sure unhealthy omnis would like those.

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Will this be the first family gathering since you've gone vegan?  I can see that you'd have concerns and obviously there are family dynamics to consider.  

Would it help to discuss this with your sister-in-law ahead of time?  You can offer her options like you bringing and preparing your own foods, as others have said.  You put this in terms of what you can do to make the holiday easier for her.  Are there better times to use the kitchen so your food prep won't interfere with hers?  Will her fridge and freezer be full?

I find that the topic of vegetarianism/veganism comes up a lot when eating with omnivores.  If you don't want to have to defend your food choices at Thanksgiving dinner, consider how you might want to handle this.  Maybe you can forestall mealtime confrontations by saying that you'll be happy to talk about this at some other time as you don't want to monopolize conversation.  Or something like that.  Whatever works for you.

If you might be going out to dinner, search ahead of time for places that you can eat.  Being prepared helps.

I hope you have as pleasant a visit as possible.  And remember, in a pinch you can keep food bars in your suitcase for emergencies! :)

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What others have said-- plus don't be drawn into confrontational discussions! The payoff is low, in that scenario... I have inlaws like this-- I generally carry an overnight bag stocked with nuts, dried fruit, vegan jerky, crackers, etc; and I bring 'regular food' that they are familiar with-- green salad/ homemade dressing, potato salad, sliced marinated cucumbers and red bell peppers, fruit salad, like that -- enough to have *something* on my plate, even if I have to go back to my bag and eat again later... How much grief can they really give you for bringing salad and dressing, for f***'s sake?! Not as if it's anything 'weird', like, god forbid, quinoa or lentils or something.  ::)

Once we were travelling-- my aunt had passed away just before T'giving, sadness!-- and (sigh) of course we had to visit my hub's family on the way back, since they were en route... circumstances were such that I couldn't take anything with me, in the way of actual me-food; and yes I did just put a slice of cranberry sauce from a can on my plate, and called it lunch... then stopped by Subway on the way out of town.  ;)

I like these explanation, if asked:
-- Since changing my eating habits, my tastes have also really changed... I just don't enjoy (turkey, etc) anymore; odd, isn't it? (polite smile)(subject change)
-- It's strange, but you know, I'm just not that hungry yet... (shrug) thanks though, it looks great! what's that spice, is that cumin? (proceed with HH's plan)
-- If anyone asks why I eat veg (I don't out myself voluntarily, if I know with reasonable certainty that it'll cause issues like those you've described; but the secret's out with my inlaws at this point-- done bun can't be undone, lol), I just say 'because it suits me' or 'because it makes me happy' or 'because it's working out for me really well'. Then I stop talking, and look at them until they feel awkward and change the subject-- which they will, because who can argue with that?!
-- If they try to goad you into food ethics discussions, deflect; it's not the time. You can say something like 'I LOVE talking about this stuff, but I don't want to take up holiday time with it... tell me about (something they like to talk about, like themselves)-- we can talk about food another day, let's just enjoy the fine company!' etc.
-- Last resort: "Well, you know, I've got some food allergies, so I need to really watch what I eat..."' (ok, well, they're technically mental allergies... it makes me nauseous to contemplate consumption of a thing that use to be a who; that counts, right?!) Mostly people won't press you. (If they do, you can fairly say 'yes, certain foods make me break out in obesity, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes'... but wait: nonconfrontational-- oops, I forgot!)

:P Family, gah!

The key concepts: they can't make you do anything you don't want to! awkwardness never killed anyone; they'll get over it, if it occurs... and bring your own food, no matter what the hostess says.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!  :)

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Shove her. Whether it be in the oven or down a flight of stairs is entirely up to you.

But seriously, I doubt you'll have anything to worry about. You'll probably get the "well, I could never give up meat/cheese/eggs/etc" comments, but you'll just learn to shrug them off over time. I think I'm going to start sarcastically congratulating people when they tell me that. I recently decided to stop consuming dairy and eggs. I told my mom the other day about my decision and that I would be bringing my own food to Thanksgiving. While she sounded very sad by this she was at least understanding. She also even thought about trying to cook different things altogether, and we had a nice conversation about how it's not about what food you eat, it's about being together. I'm sure she'll still forget and offer me the remaining turkey and ham like she always does every year, though.  ::)

The important thing is to not make a big deal about it. That's why I say to bring your own food, too. That way, they won't be inconvenienced or feel bad that they didn't/couldn't make you anything. Besides, that way you'll know for sure what you're eating. Most omnis don't even realize or know what it is that you don't eat anyway or what things have animal products in them.

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Sometimes I find it's helpful to let my host know what 'accidentally vegan' foods I enjoy that are easy to serve. Rice, Peas, green salad, bread, etc. It helps them relax a little about serving me.

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Shove her. Whether it be in the oven or down a flight of stairs is entirely up to you.

But seriously, I doubt you'll have anything to worry about. You'll probably get the "well, I could never give up meat/cheese/eggs/etc" comments, but you'll just learn to shrug them off over time. I think I'm going to start sarcastically congratulating people when they tell me that. I recently decided to stop consuming dairy and eggs. I told my mom the other day about my decision and that I would be bringing my own food to Thanksgiving. While she sounded very sad by this she was at least understanding. She also even thought about trying to cook different things altogether, and we had a nice conversation about how it's not about what food you eat, it's about being together. I'm sure she'll still forget and offer me the remaining turkey and ham like she always does every year, though.  ::)

The important thing is to not make a big deal about it. That's why I say to bring your own food, too. That way, they won't be inconvenienced or feel bad that they didn't/couldn't make you anything. Besides, that way you'll know for sure what you're eating. Most omnis don't even realize or know what it is that you don't eat anyway or what things have animal products in them.

Yeah that.

Basically over time as being a vegetarian becomes part of your persona in their eyes things will settle down, but for now you might have to endure some stuff.  Choose your battles carefully.  Most people really only want to talk about themselves and aren't interested in you.  So  Charlie's advice about blowing it off is good in some cases as it's not worth it and they don't care anyway.  Most people are pretty decent about it. 

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Hello everyone, thank you so much for calming my ridiculous fears. In answer to a couple questions; no she doesn't know about my life plan that is now in place, she doesn't even know about the weight loss, which is extreme. I look different now. It'll be a shock when she sees me, maybe NOT a pleasant one for her considering she is very overweight and unhealthy...(remember the heart bypass). They are all overweight.

I asked my hubby not to tell her because I knew she would go ballistic. When I replaced my older car a while back with a sporty kind of new car, my hubby sat in it with her while she cried (temper tantrum). She drives a bleepin Mercedes for crying out loud! Nuff said, you get the idea what I am up against. It's really a competition thing with her. I am hoping she will see the changes in my lifestyle (I love to work out, feels like the toxins are melting right out of me) and ask some intelligent questions instead of trying to squash my ideas like a bug.  :'(

I agree with those who said I should be non-confrontational, anything else is not an option in front of my kids, three of them all under 12. That all said, yes, she'll have room in her extra refrig...I'll bring stuff, probably cook my veggies in advance (I like to blanch greens, etc. and season them (anybody every tried Soy Vay Island Teriyaki? and then refrigerate. To die for!). Rice, potatoes (baked in the micro), even if she won't let me use her kitchen I will still have my cold veggies. Did I mention I eat way more than I ever did when I was eating the SAD (standard american diet) and I never leave the table hungry. I figure being Vegan has its pluses.

As for the throwing down the stairs...interesting idea...and she DOES have stairs. ;D

I don't have too many problems falling off the wagon, so to speak, because my body has become acclimated to not eating the animal products, and if something slips in in disguise I can feel the fatigue and general crappiness for almost three days afterward. So it's worth it...though I can almost smell that turkey gravy in the air... but I'll JUST smell it and feel great tomorrow.

I will hope for the best. I have people talk to me almost every day, wanting to know why I have so much energy, commenting on the weight loss. It's a great feeling. Some of them actually listen after I tell them I don't eat ANY animal products. Not very many, but some.

Thanks again, any more ideas are welcomed, except for the violent ones...but who said I can't indulge in a little fantasy every now and again.

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I am hoping she will see the changes in my lifestyle (I love to work out, feels like the toxins are melting right out of me) and ask some intelligent questions instead of trying to squash my ideas like a bug.  :'(

If she has a history of squashing your ideas, don't expect her to be any different than normal.  It is who she is. :(  Have some prepared responses so you are not caught off guard.  Things that are not really arguable but not accusatory like "I just feel better eating like this".  "You have your choices. I have mine.  Let's just agree to enjoy the company and not argue over it"

I agree with those who said I should be non-confrontational, anything else is not an option in front of my kids, three of them all under 12.

don't let her bait you.  You control you, she doesn't.  It is surprising how good young kids' "jerk detectors" are.  If you treat her respectfully in honor of the holiday and she chooses to be, well, a turkey, the kids will pick up on it over time and figure it out.

As for the throwing down the stairs...interesting idea...and she DOES have stairs. ;D . . . 

Thanks again, any more ideas are welcomed, except for the violent ones...but who said I can't indulge in a little fantasy every now and again.

Fantasizing is a legit coping strategy.  Just keep it in the fantasy realm and be careful who you tell. ;)b 

I don't have too many problems falling off the wagon, so to speak, because my body has become acclimated to not eating the animal products, and if something slips in in disguise I can feel the fatigue and general crappiness for almost three days afterward. So it's worth it...though I can almost smell that turkey gravy in the air... but I'll JUST smell it and feel great tomorrow.

I will hope for the best. I

You have a great foundation to go into this with.  Make up your mind to enjoy the day no matter what.  Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

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50 lbs! Congratulations.

It sounds like you are going to be dealing with just plain old traditional weight loss sabotage.  The kind where one person has lost a lot of weight and it arouses conflicting emotions in family members.  In other words, SIL would be criticizing the greens and baked potato even if you weren't vegan.

So in this circumstance you might want to keep the vegan part to yourself because it will just add fuel to the fire and give her something else to latch onto.  But I would just be very firm about my eating and tell heryou are eating a different way now and go straight to the supermarket as soon as you got there.

Good luck!

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i say you use the "plant based diet" approach if you think saying vegan will cause mass chaos LOL ;)

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Shove her. Whether it be in the oven or down a flight of stairs is entirely up to you.

Definitely down a flight of stairs.

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So how is it going?

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