So last week in part one, I discussed some potential reactions and responses you may get when introducing or talking about living a vegan lifestyle, and some tips on how to deal with these responses. This week, I will talk about tips surrounding attending social events, hang outs with friends and just going out in general.
When I first became vegan more than 2 years ago, I did not know any one else that was vegan or lived a similar lifestyle. (Other than friends that I had met online through social media). Not gonna lie, not having that immediate support was tough. However, that first year I went vegan, I was super, super and I mean super busy, working 3 jobs and more than 60 hours a week and not having a social life whatsoever. As a result I was able to just do my own thing and not have to worry too much about handling social situations. Since then, I have been able to gather some tips through my experiences over the years and I am happy to share with you what I have learned.
Scenario #1: Planning a meal with family, friends, or others and having part of the say.
In this first scenario, let’s say you are planning a meal with whomever and you have the time to decide on where you would like to meet. This brings endless of opportunities. I love simply typing in vegan and the city you are in, or going straight to the Happy Cow website which lists all vegan/vegetarian/veg-friendly places nearby. From there you can easily search places that you may want to go and decide mutually where you can go have a lovely meal.
Scenario #2: Having a meal with family, friends, or others and having no prior say.
For example, if you friend is having a birthday dinner and you are unable to pitch in restaurant ideas and are thus stuck with the one they pick. This is still great, if you know the restaurant in advance, you can do prior research. Look into their menu in advance and see what things you can order and have. Feel free to call and ask about their menu as well. Don’t be shy, it is their job to disclose what their ingredients are. Being prepared and knowing what they offer in advance makes it less stressful and so much easier when the event comes rolling around.
If you found something that is vegan and is something you can and will eat, then perfect! Sometimes, unfortunately there is simply nothing that is vegan. Again knowing the restaurant in advance allows you to call in and ask whether they can modify any of their dishes for you. In most cases it is simply withholding cheese, the meat, or some other sauce or dressing. More often than not there will at least be one thing that you can modify and consume. (Unfortunately, that is usually a salad, but hey that’s something!).
Scenario #3: Having a meal with family, friends or others on a whim and not knowing where.
Deciding to have a meal spare in the moment, how fun! This can bring opportunities or some inconvenience. Not being able to prepare in advance can lead to potentially a stressful scenario. But fear not, as in the other scenarios, there is often at least one thing if not more that can be modified for you. You simply have to ask. Instead of saying you’re vegan, I often say I am allergic or cannot eat eggs, dairy, etc. They can’t really respond or say much if you say you’re allergic. Additionally some people do not even know what vegan is so specially saying which foods you cannot eat makes it very clear.
Again, most places are able to modify their dishes. However, on the very unfortunate scenario where there is absolutely nothing you can eat at all, well I have some tips on preparing you for this situation.
1. Bring along some snacks- I like to always have food on me at all times. I usually carry a backpack around with me, in which I can carry an apple, banana, a water bottle and some other snacks if I would like. Other ideas may be a few dates in a small bag, or some dried fruit if possible. I don’t often have these, but if you have no problem with higher fat, carry a small bag of nuts and seeds, such as a handful of almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds. Being prepared with a few snacks can be very helpful and prevent you from starving.
2. Eat beforehand – when I know I am going somewhere where all I can have is a salad or nothing at all, I like to eat beforehand. Eating prior to is extremely helpful because it will prevent you from falling off the wagon and succumbing to eating something that has animal products in it. The worst thing is being so hungry and just watching everyone else eat. Not fun, not fun at all.
3. Bring food with you – Another option is to bring food with you to the restaurant. Depending on where you are going, they may let you take out your food and eat it. Otherwise, you can secretly munch on it without them knowing. Trust me, it is better to have food than none.
Yes okay, it may seem difficult and a lot of work and effort but trust me it isn’t! You are choosing health, choosing to take care of yourself and giving your body and your life the best and what it deserves! Think about the bigger picture. You are worth it.