Around this time of year, holiday parties are an ever growing menace. It’s hard to decide what’s the worst part about them. Perhaps it’s the small talk, the ugly Christmas sweater theme that just won’t die, or the forced sentiments of joy and love. One thing that everyone can depend upon to alleviate the holiday party pain is the plethora of food, but imagine not being able to enjoy even that. In order to prevent yourself from becoming a nutritionally specific Scrooge, a few tricks are required to get through until New Years.
If you’re a vegan, chances are people hate you. That’s okay though, because you probably have an inflated sense of self and magical vegan powers that allow you to overcome this storm of hatred and come out of it smugger than ever. The world needs you and you know it. Hopefully you have other vegan friends with whom you can spend the holidays celebrating, judging people, and doing whatever else vegans do.
Vegan friends facilitate the holiday season if you happen to be vegan yourself; however, if you are a regular party-throwing omnivore, vegans tend to make things difficult. If you’re a vegan party goer, bring snacks. Most holiday foods contain lots of butter, cheese, eggs and plenty of other ingredients that make food actually taste good. You might be pleasantly surprised if you arrive and the host has catered to your omnipotent vegan needs, but if they haven’t, at least you came prepared with some quinoa milk and horse food. Be nice about your special food requirements, because as much as everyone hates vegans, it might make people hate you a little less.
Another thing that people really hate, besides vegans, is gluten. Whether you’re trendy and hip, gluten intolerant, or a celiac, gluten is now the ultimate enemy, especially in granola havens like Vancouver. Luckily, because of this new trend, being gluten free is relatively easy and there are lots of options out there that don’t taste like hobbit food. The only time it becomes difficult to steer clear of wheat is when you’re eating away from home. Again, always having snacks is important in the fight against gluten because it provides something to fall back on if your host decides to serve food containing wheat (how gauche). When eating dessert or Japanese cuisine, avoiding gluten can become more challenging. The easiest way to solve this problem is by always being prepared. It’s always helpful to have a bottle of gluten free soy sauce that you can take with you if you know you’re going to be eating sushi. If you want to secure a spot for a gluten free option at the dessert table, offer to bring dessert and either bake it yourself or get it from a gluten free bakery. Apple crisp with a quinoa crust is fairly simple to make and is even more delicious than it is obnoxious, but Lemonade Bakery on Cambie comes highly recommended if you’re too lazy to make something yourself. Bringing dessert will guarantee your dinner party popularity as well as making you seem like you’re thoughtful and willing to help out the host. It also makes you look cool and nutritionally trendy, when in reality you’re just making sure there’s a piece of cake for you.
Another thing that will put a damper on any party? Someone going into anaphylactic shock. Allergens, especially nuts, become increasingly difficult to avoid due to the fact that they’re running rampant around this time of year. Somewhere along the line, some specialist decided that the key ingredient to spreading non denominational holiday cheer is nuts, and that decision has been haunting people ever since. Generally, people are more understanding of dietary requirements when the ingredient in question could cause imminent death. Specifying that it’s an allergy and not a personal choice will not only ensure that people will not confuse you with some flaky west coast crystal enthusiast, but it will also keep you alive. The most important action to take is to know what you’re eating. Not sure what mince meat pie is? No one really is. Unless you know that it’s free of allergens, discovering what goes in the mince isn’t worth the risk.
Perhaps your dietary requirements are some sort of separate branch of the aforementioned. Maybe you’re a vegetarian, the less annoying and easier to accommodate vegan. Perhaps you just jumped on the raw food band wagon. Is it possible that you’re just a really picky eater? If you’re close with your host, there’s a good chance that they’ve taken measures to cater towards your nutritional nuances. On the other hand, especially in cases where you don’t know the host, sometimes you just need to accept that you will only be eating the carrots off the veggie platter, threatening to eat anyone else who dares to touch it. This is where it comes in handy to have peers with the same dietary preferences as you. You could even start a gang with a cool name like “The Raw Food Rangers” or “The Vegetarian Vagabonds.” Nothing creates a bond like a mutual lactose intolerance.
Now is the moment to rise up against the oppressing foods that have kept the nutritionally selective from gaining holiday party weight along with the rest of the population. Own your special sustenance choices, intolerances, and preferences, keep snacks with you at all times, be polite to your host, and make lots of friends who have similar dietary requirements. Together we can create a meat, egg, nut, lactose and gluten free holiday season. The time is now.