Delicious bread, all for us.
Photo: Tom Grill/Getty Images
Every November, the doomsday survival articles start arriving: “How to Survive the Holidays As a Vegetarian”, “10 Things to Tell Your Relatives About Your Meatless Existence”, “How to Make Sure You, a Vegetarian, Do Not Starve During One or Two Meals Out of an Entire Year.” As a person who has somehow managed to survive seven holiday seasons as a vegetarian, let me share my wisdom with you, which is that it is actually very easy and rewarding to be vegetarian during the holidays. And I don’t mean that in a mindful, Goop-y way. I mean it in a lazy way. My argument is fairly simple:
Cheese. Bread. (Alcohol.) These are arguably the best things surrounding any meal, and even when they get all dressed up and fancy for the holidays, they are still completely and totally vegetarian, and you can eat them to survive. A quick survey of my fellow vegetarian and vegan colleagues at the Cut yielded corroborating evidence: Surviving the holidays sans meat has always been easy, because the side dishes are the best part anyway.
This is really the secret victory of being a vegetarian during the holidays (and also always). No one bats an eye that you’re stuffing your face with bread. You get a totally free pass. You can take as many dinner rolls as you want. I make a point of taking two pieces of bread whenever I can, just to assert my bread basket dominance, for I am a poor vegetarian who will surely perish if I do not eat nine Pillsbury croissants.
If you are a vegetarian, you have most likely repeated the following statement when someone offers you ham or turkey: “[Big fake laugh] Oh no thanks, none for me, I’m just SAVING ROOM FOR DESSERT.” By nature of the assumption that there is a limited amount of vegetarian offerings, you get to move from alcohol to bread to pie really quickly and without any burgeoning stomach ache.
At the end of the day, I’m just putting different food into my mouth than what you are, dear overbearing cousin. It’s a personal choice, but I can still eat an entire pizza in one sitting, so it’s not like, a great personal choice. But vegetarianism certainly does have its merits at a family gathering, especially if you are emotionally exhausted. It’s a really easy topic to talk about with relatives, one that isn’t (potentially) as incendiary as your political views, inappropriate as your love life, or stressful as your job status.
Enjoyable meals are easy to come by for us vegetarians. The holidays are not an apocalyptic showdown where only the meat-eating among us will survive. Vegetarians can and will survive during the holidays just fine. Now excuse us, we need more bread.