Thanksgiving Jitters: Tips for Healthy Eating at Family Gatherings

by Gena on November 18, 2009

turkey5

Ah, the holidays. Season of lights. Season of cheer. Season of joy.

Season of panic-inducing family gatherings.

It’s safe to say that most people have a love hate relationship with the holiday season. Along with its many joys (catching up with family and friends, jolly music, festive decorations, gift sharing, and fine food) come a slew of challenges (an endless stream of holiday parties, sweaty hours spent toiling in crowded kitchens, and the left over dent in one’s budget). For many of us, no challenge is more daunting than the prospect of family gatherings. Warm and merry though these may be, they present even harmonious families with tests of patience: differences of opinion made more vocal by mulled wine; intergenerational tensions on display around the dinner table; and, oftentimes, squabbles about food.

When I was growing up, these squabbles took the form of my Aunt and my Grandmother vying for space and dominance in my Grandmother’s narrow New York City kitchen. Later, it took the form of my Grandmother’s efforts to understand how I could possibly resist—nay, avoid—the meat stuffing she’d loving prepared for our turkey, and, later, the turkey itself. These tensions were not always trifling; at times, they became downright bitter. In my family, as in many families, food was the main currency of expression. It could be a show of affection and love; it could also be a demonstration of power or control. In most cases, it was my Greek Yaya was expressing the love, or, alternately, marking her territory as matriarch. When I began to eat differently from the rest of my family, then, it was a signal to her that I’d begun to shape my own identity, both at the dinner table and out in the world.

This wasn’t really my intention. Truth be told, I didn’t mean to reject my Yaya’s affection, or to trample on time honored Greek traditions, or to undermine her cherished role as emcee of our gatherings. I just didn’t want to eat animal proteins. But as clearly as I could separate the food I ate from the things it signified, she could not. In my Yaya’s mind, not eating the food she’d raised me on was an act of revolt, plain and simple.

stuffing And she wasn’t the only one who was taken aback by my eating habits. The frequent refrain from cousins and Aunts was why I wasn’t eating more, or eating like everyone else? I sympathized to a point; my family members remembered a time in my early teens when I’d suffered from restrictive tendencies and body dysmorphia, and they were no doubt expressing honest concern that I might not be the best judge of my own dietary choices. I, on the other hand, wanted nothing more than to convince them that, in fact, discovering plant based nutrition had downright saved me from my struggles, and was the key to my increasingly vibrant health.

Over time, I stopped trying to make this case. In the years that followed, my family began to trust and even admire my eating habits because they saw how healthy I had become; I, on the other hand, gave up on trying to prove my way of eating to the world, or draw attention to myself in the hopes of making converts.

Whenever clients or readers ask me about family gatherings, I begin with a few practical pieces of advice:

1)      For the main meal (aka Turkey Day), bring a dish that suits your habits, be they vegetarian, vegan, generally health conscious, or raw. Make sure it’s a dish that’s palatable and appealing, and make enough for the table. Never assume that people won’t want to try it; if it’s good, they will! Share the dish with enthusiasm, and cross your fingers that your folks like it. If they do, you may just find them clamoring for more healthy options next year.

2)      Plan ahead. Thanksgiving isn’t just about Turkey time; oftentimes, it means a weekend of travel and staying with relatives, or simply hours spent away from home. Make sure to bring snacks that suit you in addition to your contribution to the main meal. I never make day trips or overnights without Larabars or Pure bars, apples or bananas, a bag of baby carrots, an avocado or two, bottled juices and coconut water, and some homemade raw trail mix.

3)      If you’ll be staying with relatives who don’t eat the way you do for the weekend, never ever hesitate to call ahead and make grocery requests. This may sound pushy, but it’s not; most of the time, non-vegans (or non-healthy eaters) are nervous about having a vegan or vegetarian in the house, and they’re actually hoping that someone will tell them what to have on hand and what to make. You’ll save your host dollars of wasted grocery money and needless stress if you very politely say, “Hey, by the way, I’m not sure if you know/remember, but I’m a vegan. I don’t want you to stress about feeding me! If you don’t mind factoring me into the grocery shopping, I’d be really happy to split the cost. And I could give you just a few things to have around that I love eating.”

Or, simply make a grocery trip on your way to the destination in question, and show up with tons of food that you can enjoy and share with the fam.

4)      Know your limits. All of us have dietary preferences that are non-negotiable, and ones that aren’t. Holidays are a good time to familiarize yourself with the difference. I know some people who eat mostly vegan, but are willing to make concessions if a side dish has a touch of butter or cream; I know vegetarians who eat a tiny slice of turkey on turkey day. I have mixed feelings about these concessions, but I’ll admit that I have a few of my own. I always bring an all raw dish to parties and holiday meals, but if there’s a cooked vegan dish (especially one that a family or friend made with me in mind), I’ll certainly give it a try. Best case scenario? It’s tasty and healthy. Worst? I give the person who made it some joy by tasting. As long as it’s vegan, I can live with the fact that it’s not raw. I’m also happy to throw food combining to the wind, if necessary, as long as what I eat is vegan and not too difficult to digest.

5)      If you’re dining out, plan ahead! Most restaurants will be packed to the gills and not happy about making unforeseen substitutions on turkey day. Make sure to call the restaurant at least a week in advance if you know you’ll want something that’s not on the Thanksgiving pre-fixe menu. Request something simple, like a plate of whichever veggies the chef already plans on serving, along with a small salad and a baked yam. Be firm, but try to work with the restaurant manager to find a hassle free option.

I have one final tip, and it is by far the most crucial:

Bring a good attitude to the table.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about raw and vegan dining at holidays or with family, it’s this: don’t arrive on the defensive. If you come to the dinner table tense, self-protective, and ready for an argument, you can be sure that an argument will find you. It won’t take long for family members—especially those that are wary of veganism in the first place—to sniff out your unease and challenge you. Yes, this is immature, and yes, they should refrain, but mark my words: it will happen. And when it does, you’re likely to become argumentative, self-righteous, or hurt.

The solution? Show up with an open mind. Regardless of whom you’re eating with and what their habits are, try to abandon any pre-conceived certainty that you’ll be called upon to defend your eating habits. Instead, assume that you’re going to enjoy a harmonious meal. Think to yourself: I love my lifestyle. I respect it. And anyone who sees how happy it makes me is going to respect it, too. Instead of preparing all sorts of retorts to snide comments—or worse, arming yourself with health statistics and studies to rattle off to anyone who challenges you—prepare enthusiastic and friendly comments. Some of my favorites:

“Why vegan? Well, compassion plays a big part. But I really love how wonderful and healthy eating vegan and raw makes me feel!”

“Oh, I know it sounds limiting, but it’s not! There are so many great things you can make with vegetables, legumes, grains, and fruits. I love being in my kitchen.”

“Miss things? No, not really! I’m so focused on how much I love plant based foods that I never think about some of the things I used to enjoy.”

“One bite of turkey? Seriously, no thanks. I’m really enjoying my [insert name of vegan main course here]. But thanks–hope it’s good.”

yams Get the idea here? If you make clear to those around you that your healthy habits are not an imposition, but rather an active choice, and that you live the way you do because you love the way you feel , no one will have cause to question you. If you act self-conscious and stressed, your family will immediately assume that you’re restricting yourself for reasons that aren’t entirely sound, and they’ll question your choices.

Remember this: no one is going to believe that you like being vegan, raw, or just health-savvy if you’re sitting at the table with a glum, defensive, or self-conscious expression. If you show up for the meal glowing, warm, and enthusiastic about the way you live—if you make clear that you choose to eat the way you do because you want to, and not because you think you ought to—you’ll only invite admiration and respect.

And if you do convey such a warm and friendly attitude about your eating habits, and family members still try to attack or tease you? Well, that’s the time to perhaps cite a study or statistic or two, or to say something along the lines of, “You know, I would never choose to eat the food that you’re enjoying right now, but I also don’t feel compelled to comment on it unkindly. So I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t comment on what I do and don’t eat.” Still, don’t get combative, harsh, or petty with your commentary. Take the high road; wouldn’t you rather your judgmental family members emerge as the petty villains in the food debate, and you as the calm, reasonable victor?

Remember: the holidays, in theory at least, are about togetherness. We have enough topics to argue about without adding food to the heap; no matter how symbolic it can be, it’s just food. This Thanksgiving (and into the holidays beyond), try to maintain a sense of confidence and calm. Don’t be ashamed of the way you eat: as I’ve said before and will say again, what you choose to eat is for your own benefit, not the benefit of those around you. Do not eat to please other people.

Do, though, remember that there’s a gentle way to explain even the least conventional of lifestyles to people who don’t necessarily have the benefit of your knowledge. Be kind, and lead by example. You may find that your family responds with curiosity, rather than the criticism you fear.

I’ll be back this weekend with a gaggle of healthy vegan Thanksgiving recipes to share with your loved ones! In the meantime, stock up on whatever travel goodies you might need for un-Turkey week.

Happy Raw Wednesday!

xo

Print Friendly
Be Sociable, Share!

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsay November 18, 2009 at 10:39 am

This is a great post. I love your suggestions!

Reply

VeggieGirl November 18, 2009 at 10:40 am

Beautifully stated, as always – thank you for sharing your holiday and family experiences. Holidays have always been about the family and fun decorating (haha) for me, but obviously food is part of it as well. But as you said – it’s just food. Here’s to enjoying the holidays as a WONDERFUL time of year.

Reply

Sarah @ See Sarah Eat November 18, 2009 at 10:44 am

This post could not have come at a better time!

This will be my first vegan holiday season and also my first Thanksgiving at my in-laws house (even though we’ve been married for almost 5 years).
I’m nervous but also excited because I really feel like by sharing the holidays (and my diet) with them, being vegan officially becomes a part of my life, for good.

Plus I am hoping to lead by example and show my family what eating an animal-free diet can do for you. Thanks Gena!

Reply

Maria (Tough Cookie) November 18, 2009 at 10:50 am

Great post! I totally agree on being calm and inviting. I find most people are really interested versus combative, and I get asked a lot of questions. I’m happy to spread the word! Luckily, my dad was a vegan in the 70s, so my family is used to this kind of thing.

Reply

Jessica @ How Sweet It Is November 18, 2009 at 10:58 am

These are great tips all around, even for those of us who aren’t vegan, etc.

Reply

molly @thevegandorm November 18, 2009 at 11:01 am

The thing about having a good attitude is key.
If you look down on other people’s dishes, they’ll look down on your eyes. I choose not to judge, and therefore no one judges me. (Although I do get a few good-natured jabs – nothing I can’t handle!)

Reply

Janna November 18, 2009 at 11:02 am

You have a new picture! It’s so pretty! Thanks for the tips!!!

Reply

ilikechai November 18, 2009 at 11:02 am

Thank Gena! Wonderful post! I like how you addressed all the different aspects that go along with the hustle and bustle of holiday time not just the food part, but the emotional and social parts as well. Great tips!

Happy Holidays to you as well!

Reply

katherine November 18, 2009 at 11:10 am

Thanks for this post, Gena! After watching Food Inc the other night, I’ve really started to reconsider my food choices and I think this Thanksgiving will be very interesting. I’m hoping that by bringing a few tasty (vegan/vegetarian) side dishes, my plate won’t look empty, people will enjoy the food and we’ll have smiles all around. If not, may I join you? ;-)

Reply

katherine November 18, 2009 at 11:11 am

PS I love your new picture!!!

Reply

Blaine November 18, 2009 at 11:14 am

Thank you so much, this was an awesome post.

I find it to be so true that coming to the table with your guard up only attracts skeptical questioning and dubious attitudes from family. I didn’t realize this until last Christmas, when I opened up and decided to talk about my love for “my food” and let my true excitement about my dietary choices come through – with that attitude, I got requests for recipes instead of upturned noses!
Being a shining example of your own reasoning is totally the way to go for convincing others of the soundness of your food choices.

Reply

Travel Raw November 18, 2009 at 11:19 am

Gena, thanks for all the good tips. They will definitely come in handy!

Reply

Dara @ MyVeryFirstKitchen November 18, 2009 at 11:38 am

Gena,

Thank you so much for sharing these tips. There is always tension about who is eating what during holiday gatherings; especially after moving out of ones parents and establishing a food regime/diet/lifestyle that suits you. Prior to this, we are all living in our parents home eating what they chose to provide for us. It can always be difficult for them seeing their children come home and have their OWN ways of eating/preparing food/ect.

However, they can also embrace and admire one’s lifestlye of choosing and show interest! That is obviously what we all hope for, but not always the case. Especially when one has a history of eating disorders ect.

I truly appreciate your post, and hope it helps everyone out there stand strong in a postive and healthy way.

Thanks again Gena,

<3, D

Reply

cocoNUTbutter November 18, 2009 at 11:49 am

Well written post as always. Feel free to check my blog if ever interested. I am not raw or vegan but enjoy incorporating some of the practices into my lifestyle.

Reply

Kristie Lynn November 18, 2009 at 11:54 am

Oh is this post ever what I needed to read! I’m not going home for Thanksgiving (and therefore am avoiding this) but I am for Christmas. I became a vegan a couple of months ago and my family is not only at a loss for what I could actually eat, but also think I am depriving Chris (my husband) because I eat vegan. A positive attitude will be key :)

Reply

Mama Pea November 18, 2009 at 11:59 am

This is gorgeous, Gena. I can’t tell you how many times I have finally just played the “it’s just food” card. Thanksgiving in my mind, isn’t supposed to be about turkey, pumpkin pie or even roasted sweet potatoes. It’s not called “Turkeygiving” last time I checked. Even if we aren’t partaking or bringing something everyone is going to be in love with, part of the value we bring to the table is an open mind, compassion and a different perspective. THAT is delicious.

Reply

Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries November 18, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for this, Gena! The tips were great–and obviously timely–but I LOVED your story. Everyone in my family eats pretty similarly so I’ve never had any food/diet issues–but I can only imagine the tension that’d stem from any major variation from our standard Jewish/Chinese eating (I’m half and half haha).

Reply

Jess November 18, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Thanks for the tips, Gena! I am so nervous about the holidays! It’ll only be a month tomorrow I went vegetarian, and this past weekend that I decided to go to vegan, and I’ve already had trouble – not because I’m tempted but because having to eat out means people preparing food I can’t eat, and me eating it so I don’t go hungry (mac n cheese – and wow, I can’t believe how horrible I felt afterward since I have been limiting dairy all month to prepare for the transition to full vegan!)

I know my biggest problem is going to be the trace amounts of butter and milk in everything – I can’t decide if it would be better to put my foot down and really discuss my dietary needs with my MIL before the day (she called and asked if I would like to bring something I’ll like, I eagerly agreed!!) , or if it would be easier to just eat the trace amounts just for the holiday. I don’t want to compromise, esp so that it doesn’t give ppl the idea I’ll always do it, but just to keep my first veg holiday stress-free for everyone involved – my husband’s family have been real troopers this past month. Maybe do it for Thanksgiving but between now and Christmas have the whole talk. . .

I’d love to invite my MIL over for lunch sometime and just talk all about it openly, I know she has questions she’s not asking (probably about where I get my protein, hehe), and my husband insisted when I went vegan that I take a calcium supplement . . . I too have had restrictive problems in the past so I know they are honestly concerned for my health, but I’m not far enough in yet to have glowing radiant skin and shiny hair and super energy from a vegan diet, haha (also I’m on meds that are going to make that last one impossible anyway).

Sorry for the dissertation! It’s obviously really on my mind!! I love my IL’s.

Reply

Melanie November 18, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Thanks for this post. This is going to be my first “alternative eating lifestyle” Thanksgiving, so I’m a little nervous…I’m also spending it with some people who think veganism/vegetarianism is stupid, and are always trying to challenge me Biblically about it (I’m a Christian, and I’ve found a pretty decent Biblical base for vegetarianism, seriously). anyway, your post helped put things into perspective.

Also…maybe “Raw Wednesday” should be a permanent fixture? Just thinking….and I’M GETTING A SPIRALIZER!!

Reply

LC November 18, 2009 at 1:11 pm

What a wonderful, thoughtful post. I have already decided that I’m going to eat turkey this thanksgiving, since I’m not far enough along in my journey to resist! But who knows next year – and these tips will certainly help!

Reply

Glidingcalm November 18, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Now that is some advice!!!
I never cared for turkey day much at all………..but hopefully my family will do what we have done a few times -> go for Indian!! haha

it is def a love-hate holiday!
i appreciated this post!! I love the idea of bringing your own dish too.

Take care lovely Genaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! :)
hugs!

Reply

Jill November 18, 2009 at 2:22 pm

I’ve been bringing a “new” dish to Thanksgiving for so many years now that it’s become a tradition for everyone to try it. I don’t always get converts, but at least I don’t get hassled. Now….do you have any advice for dealing with the inevitable “Why-aren’t-you-married-yet-how-come-you’re-not-seeing-anyone-you’re-clock-is-ticking-you-know” hassle? That’s harder for me to deal with on the holidays than my food choices. :) Anyway, Great post!

Reply

Allison November 18, 2009 at 2:33 pm

This was just what I needed to hear going into my first Thanksgiving as a vegan. When I first told my mom I was eating vegan 6 months ago, the first thing she said was “what are we going to do about Thanksgiving?”. I am now confident about going into the day focused on my family and not the food choices (as long as I bring something I can eat).

Thanks Gena!

Reply

Courtney November 18, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Thanks for another great post, Gena!

When I started eating vegetarian in my teens, my family was really wonderful about it. They accepted the veggie versions of the classic dishes, like my Grandmothers AMAZING cornbread dressing made with veggies stock, instead of the “traditional” meat stock…I also make a great vegan version of the dressing! They chose to make the original version as well. So, we do a lot of that in my family – two versions of the same dish. It works pretty well for us!

Reply

Shelby November 18, 2009 at 3:16 pm

First of all: Beautifully written post! I will def. be using these tips for the upcoming holiday!

Second of all: I ADORE your new profile picture!

Reply

Twins-pure2raw November 18, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Love your new picture! Thanks for sharing your story… very similar to my family. My sister and I’s goal this season is not to get defensive like we used to do… which got us no where. This year we are really going to try to live my example and just be happy!

Reply

Eating Raw Foods Info November 18, 2009 at 5:27 pm

I am cooking this Thanksgiving, and we are vegans and having someone who is a strict vegan. But we are also having my mother-in-law and my daughter’s friend who are not vegan.

I am cooking a turkey and will have veggies, potatoes, stuffing, etc. I am not going to worry about one day of compromise.

I like your post. Good tips.

Reply

JodyLynn November 18, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Gena,

Love your new pic! When I log onto your blog, I always look forward to seeing that smiling face in the upper right hand corner. Your are so darned cute! ;-) Thanks for sharing your Thanksgiving holiday tips. I look forward to reading your upcoming vegan Thanksgiving recipes. I’m super excited for this Thanksgiving as I will be going home (So. Cal) to be with family. They have asked me to prepare and share a few raw dishes. We will be enjoying your Sweet Potato Mash, in fact. I made it this past weekend for our pre-Thanksgiving celebration with my husbands family. It was a HUGE hit! Thanks for sharing! ;-)

Reply

Lauren November 18, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Nice post! I feel like this kind of attitude can be applied to more things than vegan food :-3

Reply

Casey November 18, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Hi gorgeous Gena, I completely agree. It truly comes down to how comfortable you are with what your doing, and then being prepared! Thanks for sharing. And I LOVE your new photo!! Wolf whistling from Oz…. xx

Reply

Julia November 18, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Thanks Gena! This was a great post. And I really love how egalitarian your advice is too; applicable to more that the vegan audience.

Reply

Laura November 18, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Gena, awesome post! I think this is great advice that can be applied to a wide range of situations. My problem is often that my choices don’t always follow exact rules- I am vegetarian (except for the chicken broth matzah ball soup last year, etc), largely vegan but certainly not entirely, largely raw but eat some cooked food most days, food-combining when it’s not too hard. In other words, there are a lot of ways of eating that I follow much of the time, but not all the time and not all the way. That makes holidays hard because there are a lot of things I can technically eat, but that try to eat very infrequently. I usually eat more of them over the holidays- partly because I want to- and partly because they don’t break any dietary rules my hosts know about, and I’m not always confident enough to propose separate dishes for myself- especially when the meals have already accommodated my vegetarianism. Often the best I do is to explain that I have hi-raw habits I like to follow in the morning and at lunch and make my own food, then join dinner, suggesting as many healthy options as I can.

Reply

Molly November 18, 2009 at 8:06 pm

Hey Gena,
Great post! I’m so glad you put this on your blog. You provided a lot of this advice to me during our counseling chats this spring, and I have called upon it ever since, but have been especially thinking about it as the holidays approach and I’m formulating my own personal game plan. I love all your advice, especially the perky one-liner explanations (or no-nonsense one-liners, if need be). As the Yogi Tea bag tag says – “Say it straight, simple, and with a smile.” (Or something like that!) And I love your new photo! Really gorgeous.

Reply

Diana (Soap & Chocolate) November 18, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Look at the cute new pic! Work it, girl. Thanksgiving in particular isn’t concerning me much this year (um, I’ll be on an airplane?), but I consider your tips applicable year-round. It’s top of mind right now since the family gatherings come rapid fire this time of year, but the truth is that any time I see my family, it’s a break from routine and my increasingly conscious food choices are thrown into relief a little more sharply with each meeting. My instinct, of course, is to gird my defenses, but I’m making an effort to try and let it go. Whenever I’m questioned, it’s almost always 1) because s/he feels some kind of guilt about their own food choices or 2) because I’ve piqued their curiosity. The challenge for me is not to mistake the genuine curiosity for skepticism, and even if it is, not to acknowledge it.

I’ll be meditating on your advice. Happy Holidays, m’dear. <3

Reply

BroccoliHut November 18, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Great tips! I will be navigating a larger than normal Thankgiving crowd this year, so these tips will come in handy:)

Reply

Christine November 18, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Great post! I have a challenging Thanksgiving this year traveling to visit non-vegan family and appreciate the advice.

Reply

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) November 18, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Love the new pic of you!

And as for the post…chock freakin full of good info! When I am not bleary eyed tired I am going to re-read this in the morning but my quick and tired read LOVE that you put a few “snappy comebacks”, i.e just one bite of turkey?, into the mix.

And of course, your little food checklist, and yes, a good attitude is CRUCIAL. I always go into these types of things with the attitude of it’s just one meal, who cares if I don’t eat “what everyone else is eating”, I will not die of hunger, I am more concerned about connecting with others, and who cares about The Food. Again, one meal. I am way oversimplifying but I just go very, super lighthearted and that way I have zero expectations and cannot be disappointed or underwhelmed.

Rambling due to tiredness but LOVE this post. Thank you! :)

Reply

Janessa from epicuriousvegan.blogspot.com November 18, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Another well-written and inspiring post. It’s so true–it’s only food. Coming together to celebrate family or loved ones should be a joyous occasion.

You’re awesome, and I love your new picture.

Reply

Patrick November 19, 2009 at 7:03 am

Your new pic is tres chic

Reply

Jess of Veg Out! November 19, 2009 at 7:28 am

Great tips, Gena! I wish these were around when I had my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian 5 years ago. :) You’re helping lots of people with these ideas!

Also, cute new picture of you on the sidebar!!

Reply

rhodeygirl November 19, 2009 at 7:54 am

I am lucky in that mostly everyone in my family eats really well. Our holidays are filled with plates of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as lots of other delicious foods. And since I am not sure what to expect from PB’s family this year for Thanksgiving dinner, I am hosting my own brunch so I won’t be too hungry by then!

Reply

Lena November 19, 2009 at 8:36 am

Hey Gena, I just want to say thank you for taking the time and writing this post. It seriously moved me and your passion and dedication are so inspiring. It’s made me realize we should not be worried about food when we should instead be focused on the happy reuniting of family. The whole positive attitude perspective makes so much sense I dont know why I never thought of it in that way. Your posts are always so wonderful. Thank you for your words of comfort!

Reply

Aimee November 19, 2009 at 9:35 am

Hi Gena…great post! Your advice is sound! Although, I admit, that for the last five years I have chosen to work on Thanksgiving! My family is small and we see each other all the time so Thanksgiving has, in fact, always been about the food. I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years and vegan for almost 4 of those years yet my uncle still finds it amusing to ask if I’d like some turkey. I haven’t found it funny ever so I finally just gave up. It’s been a lot easier.

Reply

tr November 19, 2009 at 1:07 pm

i’ve only recently stumbled upon this site and i just wanted to say that i really admire your commitment to eating raw foods. while i personally don’t believe that eating 100% raw is the right lifestyle choice for me, this blog (along with michael pollan’s book “the omnivore’s dilemma”) has inspired me to change my eating/living habits. i try to eat raw salads every day now and avoid processed foods. it’s been going well, with the real turning point being when i found myself craving an avocado instead of ice cream! ;)

in any case, thank you *so* much for this post. coming from an asian family, food is most definitely the “main currency of expression.” when i come home, i never hear, “how are you?” it’s always, “have you eaten yet?” meat and fish are staples in asian cuisine, with the former having been a point of contention in the past (i could never give up fish!). but your post has opened my eyes and made me re-evaluate what are the things i’m willing to negotiate. i see now that yeah, it’s just food. life is short and my grandparents and parents won’t be around forever. i want them to know i appreciate them and i doubt my health will suffer much from a few bites of pork a year. but the joy my family will get from seeing the grateful and loving attitude i have towards them and their cooking? it’ll be totally worth it.

thank you again for a lovely post! looking forward to more!

Reply

melissa November 19, 2009 at 6:57 pm

so amazing. another post i had to read a few times before commenting. I think these are amazing tips for any situation and I will no doubt be using them in the future. Thanks for always empowering us to nourish ourselves in the way we feel fit!

Reply

GirlonRaw November 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm

I love your statements you have given as examples for those people we know will challenge us at this time of year. You put things so eloquently. Thanks for sharing :)

Reply

Nicole November 21, 2009 at 11:53 pm

I think your blog is the only one I actually take the time to read entirely, since it’s well-written and interesting. I’m going home for Xmas and I’m mentally preparing myself for the suppers. Your post will be helpful! I’m not going to kick myself if I have a slice of pie or a potato pancake, but no turkey and stuffing. I’m considering making a raw dish and a vegan one for myself, and I might be brave enough to make a big enough serving for others to try, though I won’t hope for converts;-)

Reply

lindsey November 23, 2009 at 2:46 pm

i love your site! i know you hear that a lot, but i had to confess my adoration of it – so inspirational, informative, and just fabulous.
i have two questions (or propositions rather) for you. as a teenager in today’s society, of course i am very concerned with weight. Naturally, a raw foods diet lends to weight loss – but i am very curious as too what specific amount of food you eat daily. I love eating nothing but fruits and veggies, but I find when I do so I eat more of them; and then I feel that I need to cut off my food intake even if I’m not full based on how much I’ve eaten – regardless of the type of food.
Secondly, I’m curious as to how you became a nutritionist. Food seemed to be a very big part of your life growing up – but what made you want to pursue it as a career – mainly just helping others? I’ve been considering pursuing a similar field but I’m hesitant because I don’t want a profession that entails too much routine, and as an art student I don’t want to compromise my creativity.
I could ask you questions all day – but I’ll leave it at that!

Reply

Gena November 24, 2009 at 8:16 am

Hey Lindsey! Thanks for the very sweet comment here.

The raw diet does not necessarily lend itself to weight loss. I know many who have gained weight or maintained weight by eating raw and vegan.

I don’t like to share precisely what I do and don’t eat, because everyone is different and my own habits are not necessarily relevant to anyone other than me. I can tell you that I eat a very, very generous quantity of food and do not skimp at all, especially not on veggies.

I think that being a nutritionist is really great for me — mostly because I get to help other people feel well, emotionally and physically. But I don’t know that it would make me happy if I were to do it exclusively. for now, at least, being an editor is the main part of my professional life. If you’re a creative person, you can’t turn that creative drive off!

Gena

Reply

Cindy November 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Gosh Gena…great great thoughts here.

I am bringing some of the food and a few weeks ago I was super excited to “mix” the way we eat and help incorporate it into our traditional holiday get together…and I really forsee no judegement but I have literally exhausted myself trying to perfect this and that so that everyone will like it.

I am at a total loss now! funny huh?

we are not vegan in our home or raw…just mostly and it’s a work in progress. Just trying to make each bite “count”
Thanks as always!

Reply

kazerniel November 29, 2009 at 3:26 pm

The post is good, but the first image is pretty repulsive for the vegetarian readers of a raw (vegetarian) blog, imho.

Reply

rose water February 12, 2013 at 3:11 am

THANK you for this perfect post!!! :-) Now I’m so less nervous about attending my aunt’s birthday party end February! I’m planning to bring a delish raw lemon pie :-D
Cheers :-)

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 4 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: