How I Eat Plant-Based at (Carnivorous) Holiday Family Gatherings

This is going to be a short one today, but I just wanted to write this for anyone else who is going to family dinners over the next few days and wants to avoid animal products while also being able to eat. Both Gabe’s and my family dinners usually are centered around meat, and vegetables are a rare treasure if found at his family’s house. Thankfully, my mom likes quite a lot of plant foods so I’m always able to eat something at her house.

This isn’t a foolproof plan, it is simply my general guidelines for eating at an important family dinner. That being said, if you have a family who won’t be offended if you eat before you come, take advantage of a healthful meal before you head over to their house. This is the most reliable way to make sure you are eating healthy.

Here are the foods that I stick to eating at family gatherings:

Something Plant-Based that I Brought

Starting out with the obvious, you can find many delicious recipes on Pintrest and bring one to your family dinner. If you bring a dish such as a rice and vegetable pilaf or a quinoa salad, it can easily serve as your whole meal. This way, you are eating with your family and staying true to your morals at the same time. And, in my experience, Vegan Mac & Cheese is usually a winning recipe for the whole family.

Whole Wheat Biscuits/Rolls

Most likely vegan, definitely plant-based. Whole wheat is a great source of protein and carbs. I usually have a couple pieces of bread with my meals.


It is fairly common during the holidays to have bowls of nuts around for snacking. At my grandparent’s house, a bowl of shelled nuts was always in the living room equipped with metal nutcracker. Nuts are vegan, and full of minerals and protein.


I actually don’t like fruit very much, but fruit trays are common at family dinners. Skip the cream cheese dipping sauce, and you’ve got an ethical snack.

Mashed/Baked Potatoes

The mashed potatoes probably won’t be vegan, but are plant-based. Potatoes are a great source of carbs and trace minerals. I tend to skip the mashed potatoes if my mother-in-law went heavy on the cream in them, but otherwise I use potatoes as a solid base for my meal. Top with some veggies and maybe some toasted nuts, and you’ve got a balanced meal.

Corn/Green Beans

Green beans have a fair amount of protein, and along with corn has a great amount of fiber. I like to top my baked or mashed potato with one of these at family dinners.

Banana Walnut Bread

One of my favorite desserts, and very nutritious. Gabe’s family usually makes it, and I always partake.

Note: If you don’t have an incredibly understanding family like I do, and this is your first holiday season as plant-based or vegan, it might would be a good idea to sit down and explain to your family why you chose this and let them know your dietary limitations. I also try to always remind mine that I don’t want them to revolve the dinner around my preferences, but simply don’t want to blindside them.

Have a Happy Christmas! 🙂

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