If there's one holiday that puts meat front and center, it's Thanksgiving. So it's no surprise that your vegetarian or veg-leaning eating habits may provide your relatives with hours of endless discussion this year (no, not really—but it sure can feel that way when you're the one in the spotlight).
Here are some of the most common questions well-meaning family members are likely to ask you, and smart ways to answer them.
The question: "So...are you still a vegetarian?"
Your answer: "Yes, I am! How 'bout those Broncos?"
It can be frustrating to feel like people assume this vegetarian "thing" is a phase you're bound to outgrow. You don't have to defend yourself or lay out a detailed time frame—a simple, confident "yes" is all the explanation necessary (then promptly change the subject!).
The question: "Would a little turkey really kill you? Just have a bite!"
Your answer: "It wouldn't kill me. But I'm really excited to have some of Aunt Ida's famous stuffing and sweet potatoes!"
Ah, the "just one bite won't kill you" argument. People love this one—because, really, how can you disagree? You can't (after all, they're right). Instead of trying to win this one, shift the focus to the other dishes your host has worked hard to prepare.
The question: "Aren't you so sad to not eat turkey on Thanksgiving?"
Your answer: "If I was, I'd just eat some!"
Why is it that people assume that not eating meat is depressing? Most people who stop eating meat do so because it makes them feel happier—whether it's because they are against unnecessarily harming animals, or they feel healthier, or like they're being more environmentally responsible. Make it clear that if going veg made you sad, you probably wouldn't be doing it.
The question: "Is there something for you to eat here?"
Your answer: "There are so many things to eat, I don't even know where to begin."
After turkey, what foods come to mind when you think of Thanksgiving? Stuffing, sweet potato casserole, string beans, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, wild rice, fresh rolls, cranberry sauce, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, pumpkin pie. Nearly all of the quintessential Thanksgiving foods (aside from turkey, of course) are vegetarian, and many are vegan. There's pretty much always something for a VegHead to eat at Thanksgiving dinner.
The question: "Are you sure you're getting enough protein?"
Your answer: "It's actually not as hard as you think."
Protein is the nutrient non VegHeads most love to discuss. But as it turns out, most vegetarians don't have trouble getting enough of the nutrient in their diet (check out The Smart Girl's Guide to Going Vegetarian for more details). One serving of a food that's a good source of protein like lentils, hummus, edamame, or nuts is enough to cover your bases for Thanksgiving dinner—no turkey necessary.
What questions are you prepared for this Thanksgiving?