BY CLUB MANAGER MAYRA RODRIGUEZ
For someone who loves food and trying all types of food, becoming a vegan might sound like the worst idea ever. This was my initial reaction when I was first introduced to veganism, and I won’t lie; I have had some tempting times where my willpower was really tested. Times where that chicken ranch buffalo slice looked and smelled good enough to make me want to throw my morals out the window. But what always kept me strong was the education I had on the vegan lifestyle (not diet, lifestyle) and its environmental and health benefits.
Along with properly educating myself, being prepared and proactive were also keys in successfully adapting to a vegan lifestyle. One of the greatest challenges was enjoying social events that revolved around food, which are almost all social events. Going out to dinner with non-vegans, going to parties, festivals, etc. can easily become more of a hassle rather than a pleasure. That is, if you’re not properly prepared.
The key is getting as much information as possible on the types of food that will be available. Let's face it - nobody wants to starve while watching everybody else devour delicious smelling food.
So, the following are some tips that I’ve gained on how to be vegan the right way at social events:
1.) Before meeting up for a dinner or any meal, know where you will be eating.
Look up the menu and see what your vegan options are. Pay attention especially to what modifications are possible. Some restaurants do not allow their menu items to be altered. If you’re unsure if something is vegan or not, call and ask!
2.) Become familiar with what common foods are “accidentally vegan.”
These foods may come in handy when you’re just hanging out with friends or going to a party, you can supply the vegan treats! HERE is a great list provided by Peta.
3.) Keep the hosts informed.
If you’re a guest at a dinner party, let the hosts know ahead of time that you don’t consume any animal products (this is an easier phrase to use for those who are not familiar with the term ‘vegan’). Remember to be proactive, ask how you can help or if there’s a vegan dish you can bring for everybody.
4.) Contribute your own vegan creations!
The holidays can be an excellent time to explore your cooking skills and get creative by whipping up some vegan alternatives to the classics. HERE is a great website for vegan recipes.
5.) Pack some emergency snacks just in case.
As a last resort, always carry snacks in your bag that will satisfy you if there is nothing else to eat. Some of my favorites are Cliff protein bars, nuts, and carrots.
Adapting a vegan lifestyle with an open mind and heart is what will make this change successful. Do not think of it as depriving yourself but as an opportunity to learn about new foods and explore interesting and fun, new dishes, all while optimizing your health!