Being Plant Based and Social

It’s 5 days before our annual ladies weekend commences and the group chat is buzzing off the hook. Everyone’s excited to get their drink on, bask in the sun, bath in the lake and feast on chips and dip. I, on the other hand, sway back and fourth in my rocking chair like an extra in To Kill A Mocking Bird twitching at every ding notifying me of a new message. I’m being dramatic. But at this time, my stress levels do shoot through the roof because:

  1. I’m not a picky eater but my diet is restricted to things that support my beliefs and health goals. Unfortunately hot dogs and KD don’t make the cut.
  2. I don’t like being or feeling like I’m an inconvenience to the group. Why should they have to make 2 different dinners to accommodate 1 person?
  3. I am not a fun person when I’m hangry and most of the time I’d rather starve than eat a whole wheat wrap.

So how have I learned to deal with weekend get aways with the girls, family events, birthday/work and other social events? I relaxed.

When I finally truly embraced the 80/20 rule and ingrained in my brain that a slice my aunt’s homemade pie wouldn’t have me exploding like an angry bird, my results began to heighten. I became more relaxed and less stressed which is detrimental to your digestive system.  It is a scientific fact that when you are stressed and hold onto guilt after indulging, our body has a difficult time breaking down the food and ends up storing access fat because of it.

So what about vegans?

Gluten and sugar are definitely things I don’t include in my everyday diet which makes it OK to consume stress-free on rare occasions.  Meat and dairy, however, are non-negotiable for me.  This is where it can be a bit tricky. We have made the decision to be plant based or vegan. This is a decision we have made and no one is obligated to cater to us (although, if you are as lucky as me, many of my friends and family do make a solid effort). We have made this decision in our lives and it can definitely be hard work at the best of times, but isn’t the reward so worth it? We save hundreds of lives every year, we are supporting the environment and are voting with our dollar every time we make a plant based purchase.  Not to mention the amazing effect it has on our own bodies. Increased energy, beautiful skin, hair, nails, more restful sleep, lower cholesterol, weight loss and so much more!

So how do I attend social events while staying true to my diet without becoming a hangry high maintenance betch?

  1. I take matters into my own hands. Just like I said before, being plant based is definitely more work so preparation is key.  For getaways, I bring my own little cooler filled with vegan options like vegan yogurt or oats for breakfast, veggie burgers, hummus with veggies and other little snacks I can easily take out when needed. In a pinch, none of this needs to be homemade and all these items are available at almost every grocery market.
  2. Ask the group if their cool with trying a vegan meal one night.  They can all pitch in and learn a new recipe. Or if it’s a night out, suggest a vegan/ vegetarian-friendly restaurant.  Hopefully, your group is up for trying something new. If not, and this can be a common issue also, eat before hand and sip a lemon soda water while you enjoy their company. No, this is not ideal. Eating out with friends when I first became vegan was extremely stressful for me to the point where I wouldn’t join at all. I didn’t want to be ‘that girl’ who asked 1000 questions about the menu and made 100 adjustments to an order. But you know what? Now if I’m out with friends, I own it. Because at the end of the day it’s my body, my goals and my friends are used to it. I also try to order last so they don’t have to listen to my 20-minute rendition of a garden salad.
  3. If it’s a potluck, bbq or even dinner, ask if you can bring something.  Choose to bring something that will fill you up incase there are no other options. Even something as easy as a quinoa salad. This will guarantee you a healthy, satisfying meal no matter what. Then you can carry on being the life of the party, energized and spitting out the best one liners the guests has ever heard.

At the end of the day, this is the life us plant based eaters have chosen.  We dissect labels, we bashfully ask friends the ingredients in their homemade dish and 98% of the time we talk about our latest vegan recipe discovery.  We love this life! It comes with an abundance of perks physically, emotionally and environmentally! However, it is also our own responsibility to hone it and take care of ourselves as no one owes us anything. At the end of the day, it is definitely more work as we have to always come prepared and we have to research anything that we consider putting our fork into.  As stressful as this lifestyle can be, remember, we chose it, we love it and it serves us. So smile, laugh, meditate, dance do whatever us crazy plant based eaters do and love every second of this beautiful life we’ve been given.