During this chaotic and stressful time of the year full of holidays, there is always one constant: huge family dinners. Whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years, both sides of my family have big gatherings with family from both close and farther away.
I became vegetarian around three years ago and have since felt good about my decision. It was mostly for moral reason but there were also health benefits I enjoy. It was difficult at first for my parents to adjust, but they are very used to it by now. My dad would make what he thought were funny jokes and my mom would even help cook for me when I was living at home. This time of year is one of the most difficult to maintain this lifestyle due to the lack of options that tend to be at holiday meals.
Starting with Thanksgiving, my parents and I usually go to my Dad’s family’s house, where there will be a plethora of foods. We usually have two turkeys, stuffing with sausage, and mashed potatoes (with bacon). I will usually feel bad asking my mom to make something vegetarian for me and I’m a pretty bad cook, so I will usually just eat a roll with corn, green beans, and sometimes sweet potatoes. They usually taste very good and I am extremely grateful. When I get home, I usually just find something that is less of a traditional meal to eat, such as plant-based chicken nuggets, pasta, or a salad.
On Christmas, my mom’s side of the family is less traditional, so there are usually a lot of things I can eat such as pizza, pasta, or salad (I really like pasta). When visiting my dad’s side of the family, we eat brunch, so there’s always so much to eat. My favorite thing that my aunt and grandma make is creme brûlée french toast. I’ll also eat eggs or fruit.
During this time of year when I am at home, my mom always cooks the best food for me. My favorite of hers will always be her vegetarian stuffed shells! They are full of ricotta cheese, sauce, and sometimes beyond meat if it’s being made just for me.
While being vegetarian has its challenges, it can be quite rewarding and just as fulfilling as someone who does eat meat. I am always Googling and scrolling on social media for new and creative recipes, especially for the holidays to have meat alternatives. If you are thinking about becoming vegetarian, just do it! I recommend slowly reducing meat from your diet, just to make the process easier. Just remember that even without meat, there are endless possibilities of what you can make!