How to Navigate the Holidays as a Vegetarian

ChristophLacroix Flickr/cc
Most of the year, being a vegetarian (or vegan) is little more than a minor inconvenience. After all, you have complete control over what goes into your shopping cart, refrigerator and, inevitably, digestive system.

But around the holidays, things get a little more complicated. When faced with potlucks, buffets and grandma's kitchen, herbivores can end up feeling like Justine Sacco after her plane landed. Shit out of luck.

What follows is a holiday survival guide for non-meaters.

See also: Trader Joe's: Top Ten Vegetarian Finds

Become BFFs with the family dog(s).
If you're more of an incognito veg-head, preferring to fly under the radar and not cause a ruckus at a social gathering, you can pass your meat off to a more willing attendee: any available dog. Or hell, cat, even. A ham slice beats standard pet fare any day. Alternatives include flushing the meat down the toilet, burying it in the kitchen garbage (potato peelings make great camo), or throwing it into the neighbor's yard.

Be prepared to define the word MEAT.
Some people may be perplexed by your status. No meat? What does that even mean? Traditionalist relatives might have evolved their own definitions of the foreign concept. (See above.) Be ready to explain that meat = animals. Depending on the pupil you're schooling, this might engender even more confusion. Flash cards could help.

That's slang for Bring Your Own Food. This is a back-up plan in the likely chance that all food -- sides included -- will be made with something that once had a face. Bacon lurks even in desserts these days, so it pays to be prepared. This way, you won't have to resort to eating three-year-old gingerbread off the Christmas tree.

Grow a thick skin. Or a coat of armor.
You think you got teased as a teenager when you had a faceful of acne and a mouthful of metal? Toilet dunks and locker-stuffing were child's play. When your redneck uncle discovers you're no longer a meat eater, the repercussions will make frat hazing look like a trip to Disney World. Prepare for an endless (read: until the relative in question dies) onslaught of teasing, torture and painfully unfunny jokes. Expect the following: "Haven't you heard that carrots scream when you pull them out of the ground?" "Vegetarian is just an old word meaning lousy hunter." "Meatloaf is totally vegan, right?" All of the above will likely be followed by chortling at their own wit for hours afterward.

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