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Special Diet Parties

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Fact: I like parties.  

People often ask how I deal with being the only vegan at a party: What do I eat? Do I make special arrangements ahead of time? And how do I react when someone brings up the topic?

I know many of you also eat “differently” than your friends and family—whether it be due to necessity (such as allergies) or choice. Hopefully this post will help some of you as well.

Social Gatherings: Dealing with being Different 


In the above photo: Healthy Chocolate-Chip Cookies.

1. Plan Ahead

Make sure (beforehand) that there’ll be food you can eat. Oftentimes, this means bringing your own food. But instead of bringing a special meal just for yourself, think of a dish or two that you can share with everyone (cookies—like the ones above—are always a big hit with crowds). Nothing screams “weirdo!” as loudly as the girl hiding in the corner with her “special” food that no one else can sample. Don’t just tell people you can eat yummy things on your diet; show them!

2. Blend In

I think the most important thing you can do is not draw attention towards yourself. If you do not make a big deal out of your differences, others most likely won’t either. They probably won’t even notice! It’s just a fact of life that people tend to be consumed with their own lives and thoughts; we usually overestimate how much others notice our habits.


In the above photo: Christmas Polenta Casserole.

For our Christmas feast last year, I lined up with everyone else when it came time to make our dinner plates. I made a beeline for the polenta casserole first, to ensure I’d get enough before it was all gone. Then, I piled my plate high with a myriad of colorful sides until no one could say my feast looked sad and lonely.

3. Show Off


In the above photo: Healthy Chocolate Cake.

Showcase your diet in the best-possible light by dazzling your fellow party-goers with incredible-looking (and tasting!) foods. For example, if you’re a vegan, you could bring a dish of plain, steamed veggies. But how boring is that? Instead, why not get creative? Flip through some cookbooks for ideas, and go gourmet.

4. Speak Up—if you wish

When someone at the dinner table commented that I “always look so radiant and happy” I just *had* to put in a good word for veganism. Only then did people take notice of what was on my plate (or rather, what was not on it). And you know what? Their reaction was pretty much all positive! I think it helped that we were—for the most part—a young crowd. I feel like younger people tend to be more receptive and accepting of a meatless diet, as it’s become a much more mainstream idea in recent years. (Thank you, Ellen Degeneres!)

One girl at the table didn’t eat red meat. Another said, “Oh my college roommate’s a vegetarian too! And she’s kind of been swaying me that way, lately.” Someone else chimed in with, “I could never give up meat completely, but I’ve been trying to eat it less because I keep reading that a lot is bad for your health.” And even an older guy at the table said he was cutting back due to high cholesterol. So although I was the only vegetarian, it turned out I was not the only one who appreciated the plethora of veggie options at our Christmas table.

5. But don’t preach

I was once embarrassed about my veganism.

However, those days are long gone, and I’m now a proud plant-eater. But that doesn’t mean I have a right to force my views on others. My diet doesn’t make me superior to anyone else; we all have different ways of making the world a better place, and some of the kindest, most amazing people are omnivores. I am not fit to shine their shoes. (Mother Theresa, I’m talking to you!) Now is not the time to get preachy and make others feel badly about their choices. Believe me, screaming “Grandma, you’re a murderer” will not win you any converts to your cause, and it certainly won’t make you any friends.

6. Change the Subject

If you’re feeling uncomfortable with the attention focused on your diet, or if the dialogue is turning hostile, casually push the conversation in a new direction. Or make an excuse (bathroom, need more food, want to check the football score, etc.) and get up from the table. Chances are that, by the time you return, the guests will have moved on to a new subject.

Question of the Day:

Do you eat differently from your friends?

If so, does that ever present a challenge at parties or family gatherings?

Tomorrow: chocolate-pumpkin pie!!

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. Awesome post–I especially like the “Show off” tip!

    I definitely eat differently than many of my friends and it can sometimes be challenging. They often order in wings or go out for burgers…both of which pose a challenge for a vegetarian and health food enthusiast!!

  2. Audrey says:

    Awesome post, Katie! This really resonated with me and I think I will use some of these tips in the future. I especially liked #5. It’s important (especially for me) to remember not to preach! Because veganism is something I feel passionate about I often find myself having to bite my tongue. But I think there are better ways and times of addressing the subject than at a holiday gathering.

  3. Janice says:

    I’m celiac and can no longer have dairy either. But I Loooove your recipes…you’ve taught me. Thank you.

  4. This post speaks to me too! I’m not a big meat eater (not a vegetarian either) but most of my friends love meat! So parties and gatherings always mean that 9 out of 10 dishes are meat!

  5. Val says:

    Love this post!! Some Great advice!!
    There isn’t much I won’t eat… but I have a lot of friends on “special diets” and I love trying to create yummy dishes that they can enjoy too. And they really appreciate it when they have the fudgy looking brownie or cupcake too!! And to be honest, I get most of my recipes from you!!

  6. I loved this post! I don’t follow anything specific like veganism, but I just happen to be friends with a lot of people that are not super healthy conscious and I used to feel so alienated by my different food choices and not being like everyone else. I would cook food for others that I wouldn’t eat myself, but I have found that If I just make the things I enjoy, everyone else ends up liking it too and appreciating it in the end! :)

  7. Great post! Oooh I am excited for that pie recipe :)

  8. Dakota says:

    I eat incredibly differently than my friends AND my boyfriend, which can sometimes be hard. I get really self conscious at times especially when people make comments about my rabbit food or how I’m probably not getting enough protein. Generally I find that the mean spirited comments stem from people thinking that by eating the way I do, I’m judging them or criticizing them. You just have to be open with people and make sure everyone knows that you’re not condemning their choices.

    As always, the best way to impress and make things comfortable, though, is DEFINITELY to share. When I make enough to share, everyone around usually eats (and loves) at least a portion of it (even though it’s vegan). Also taking your share doing the hosting of parties can be great too. It’s a chance to make a handful of things and broaden the minds of your friends. =)

    1. My favorite answer to the protein question is to tell people that elephants and gorillas are vegan. No one could say they’re scrawny! 😉

  9. Megan says:

    This was an insightful and helpful post! Just yesterday I was at Thanksgiving gathering with friends and brought lentil dal to have instead of meat. I didn’t mention it and no one noticed it was on my plate! I also brought a big salad as a dish so I knew I would have veggies to eat. You are so right about people not noticing! I eat differently than my friends in that I don’t eat meat and I tend to eat more veggies and balanced meals. I agree that we all have our ways of helping the world! One of my friends is the volunteer coordinator at the North Texas Food Bank; regardless of her diet, that rocks! In conclusion, thanks for the post and I look forward to tomorrow’s recipe!

  10. Angela says:

    The healthy chocolate cake link is defunct!

    1. Uh oh… it’s working perfectly for me. Can you tell me what error message you’re getting?

      1. Also: Is anyone else having a problem with that link??

        1. Melissa F says:

          I got the “You 404’d it. Gnarly, dude.” message when I clicked on that link.

          1. Ok, I *think* I fixed it! Thank you all SO much for taking the time to let me know it wasn’t working. If anyone gets a chance, let me know if the links are working now. (You might have to clear your cache.)

            Sorry for all the trouble :(

  11. Angela says:

    “You 404’d it. Gnarly, dude.
    Surfin’ ain’t easy, and right now, you’re lost at sea. But don’t worry; simply pick an option from the list below, and you’ll be back out riding the waves of the Internet in no time.

    Hit the “back” button on your browser. It’s perfect for situations like this!
    Head on over to the home page.
    Eh, it’s probably just me…

  12. Moni'sMeals says:

    Great post Katie, I am certain this will help many others. :)
    I think eventually people come around and finally accept things.

  13. Good post! I recently found out that I am gluten and soy intolerant, so I’m a little nervous about going home for the holidays. My cousin, who is cooking thanksgiving dinner, knows this so I know she will try to make some accommodations, but she’s pretty set on her menu. I did offer to bring another veggie dish: Brussels sprouts! My biggest concern though is people feeling bad for me since I can’t eat half the menu (and most of my favorites). I don’t pity myself and don’t want that from them!

  14. That polenta casserole sounds incredible! I will definitely be bringing some fun veggie dishes to my thanksgiving feast!

  15. Kit-Kat says:

    I do, and my friends think I’m weird, but they understand at the same time, because I’m allergic to dairy anyways. I love being a vegan, and I promote it, but if my friends havev zero interest in it then I won’t talk about it.
    My veganism presents a pretty big challenge at parties and gatherings, because my friends’ parents cook casserol dishes that are not vegan to parties most of the time, and the only vegan sides are either slices of fruit (mainly apples) or raw veggie trays. I can’t just eat that at a part without someone saying “you on a diet? You’re already super skinny”. It’s impossible to bring my own dish when my family visits a French family we know well, too. This French family serves meals the traditional French way (very elaborate and fancy), and to refuse everything is to be rude. They understand me a little, because on of their neices is dealing with anorexia, and she visited them not too far back. I don’t want to be labeled as an anorexic, though. I want to be known as a happy healthy vegan!

  16. Melissa F says:

    This is a very inspirational post, Katie! I’ve been vegetarian all my life. When I was a kid, I was sheltered from all the questions for the most part because my parents were vegetarians too and so were all the people we hung out with!

    After I left home, I had to learn how to respond to a lot of questions about vegetarianism, and some of them were very personal!! LOL But I soon learned that humor helps tremendously! And I needed to bring stuff to share at parties and dinners. Also, I noticed that most people were open and supportive. :)

    Still to this day, the question I get the MOST often is: What do you eat at Thanksgiving? My answer usually is: Oh MY!! The question should be ‘What do I not eat?’ Then I’ll start listing all the things I love to eat at Thanksgiving that doesn’t involve meat. They soon get the picture!!!

    Oh, and by the way, Dakota – I really like your comment “Generally I find that the mean spirited comments stem from people thinking that by eating the way I do, I’m judging them or criticizing them.” And I totally agree! If someone makes snide comments about the way I eat, it’s usually because they think I’m going to criticize them – and I NEVER do! However, if they continue to be “mean”, sometimes I just say “You know, that cow you’re eating was a vegetarian!”

    1. Haha I struggle with that question on ANY day! “What can you eat?” Oh goodness, people don’t really want to know all that I eat… I actually eat a MORE varied diet now that I’m a vegan, oddly enough.

      1. Kellie says:

        I do too – it’s funny, because I feel like even though I’m “excluding” all meat and most eggs and dairy, I still eat a greater number of different species, on a regular basis, than many of my friends and most of my family. And YES – Dakota is SPOT-ON… most of the hostility I encounter (or even just most of the awkwardness) also stems from my companion at a meal assuming that I’m going to judge them for eating meat. People have all encountered at least one super-preachy sanctimonious vegetarian or vegan, and nobody wants to be guilt-tripped for how they eat. People have a tendency to get either hostile or (more often) immediately jump in to making excuses for themselves, because they’re afraid of either offending me or of being unfairly judged by me. It helps to assure them that that how I eat is a very personal choice – and so is how THEY eat! I’ve had so much more success convincing people that my plant-based diet isn’t boring or restrictive when I have simply cooked for my friends and family, rather than trying to debate or explain it to them. Once they see that I can eat all kinds of really delicious stuff, and that I’m not going to beat them over the head with a zucchini if they still enjoy meat, they realize that vegetarianism/veganism isn’t that big of a deal, and that not all vegetarians are a pain to hang out with. :)

  17. Sonja says:

    Great post, Katie! I do eat differently from most of my friends and family because I’m a vegetarian and try to cut down on dairy, too. It’s not a real problem but people often ask me about my diet. Especially older ones and I have no problems in telling them about vegetarianism but have to remind me sometimes that I don’t want to preach :-)

  18. Having a wheat allergy makes this hard!! Every Friday evening my high school marching band has tailgate before the football game. It was weird because I always had to bring my own food and could never share the desserts even. But one day I brought wheat free blondies for everyone in my flute section and they all loved them and were convinced that wheat is actually not necessary for something that tastes good. :)

  19. Awesome post! Living in Istanbul for the semester, I’m having to explain my animal-free life more and more and these are some great tips!

  20. Thank you for this post Katie! This holiday season is the first time I’ll be approaching my family with a restricted meat diet and I was worried how to go about it!

  21. –You. Rock.

    Love this blog.

    Love your recipes.

    Love that Chocolate Cake., WOW.

  22. Great advice. I’m heading to my first Thanksgiving as a vegan this week, and I’m expecting everyone to be good about it. Of course, some of my big meat-loving uncles will probably make comments, but whatever. I’m obviously going armed with some majorly delicious dishes!

  23. Amber K says:

    With my numerous food intolerances I have to bring my own food if I want to be able to eat something that won’t upset my stomach. I try and bring something that everyone can eat and share. But I usually get a little bummed watching everyone eat a plethora of different foods while I’m usually stuck eating the one thing I brought.

  24. It can be so tough. I hate when I feel that people are drawing attention to me, I’m not the one bringing it up and everyone has a million questions, and some people judge me because they don’t have the ideals I do. I HATE that! I’m not judging them!!!! I sometimes just want to scream “I’m not judging you!!!! I’m doing this for me! It has nothing to do with YOU or making you feel bad about what you’re doing!”

  25. Gina says:

    This will be my 2nd Thanksgiving eating a plant based diet. Last year I had already planned to host Thanksgiving dinner and still made a turkey and all the sides, including several new vegan choices. My sister told me a dozen times before the dinner that she thought I should cancel Thanksgiving since I didnt plan to eat the turkey! I couldnt believe that she was serious. I thought it was about the gathering, not what we gathered to eat. A year later, we are still have the same issues, and have opted to go out for dinner on Thanksgiving. My sister feels we have lost one of her favorite things that we had in common, that we were both foodies. Katie, I am still a foodie, maybe even more so. I try to explain that we can still go out and order from the same menu, we’ll just be ordering different things. Thank you for your insightful post. I love your blog and your recipes. Several have become staples in my home.

    1. Awww :(. Hopefully she can someday see that in some ways, adopting a vegetarian diet can make a person MORE of a foodie. When we give up certain foods, we’re forced to get creative and expand our horizons. Until I became a vegetarian, I’d never even heard of foods like quinoa, tempeh, polenta, seitan… I eat so much more now than I did when all my meals were based around chicken or beef!

  26. Kathleen says:

    This post is AWESOME Katie! :)
    I strive to eat a plant-based diet (but I want to cut out even more animal products — I feel so good when I do; since cutting out dairy, I have had more energy than ever before!). Thank you for always being there for me.
    This post really touched me, as I have been in those situations where it is really awkward because there was nothing I could eat. But this year, I am changing that. I’m going to make a pumpkin pie with tofu. (But don’t tell mi familia, or they would be like, “WHAT?! TOFU???!!!!” Hehe, *evil smile* jk!) They won’t even know, and I’ll get to enjoy dessert right along with them. 😀

  27. I definitely eat differently than many of my friends and family members, but thankfully everyone is super nice about it! I don’t make a big deal out of not being able to eat x or y dish, I just serve myself plenty of the plant-based options and mind my own business!

  28. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and tips on the subject.

    “Do you eat differently from your friends?” = yes, I’m sure I do but the older I get and the older my friends get, we don’t really notice or pay much attention to it anymore. When we meet up, we are more interested in talking about life, what our kids are doing, what’s going on with our husbands, extended family, house, hobbies, etc than paying too much attention to whether or not she is eating meat, gluten, soy, dairy, etc…not something we focus on as much.

  29. KellyBelly says:

    I eat vegan by choice and this summer at a work conference I made a point to myself that I was going to eat my way and not feel weird. Well it turned out when the wait staff brought me out a huge plate of steamed veggies one night while the buffet had tons of cream & butter filled potatoes and soups and meats, many people turned to me and said “I wish I had that”! Having a colorful array of veggies verses the tan boring (in my eyes) fried food wins every time. We eat with our eyes first.
    Thats why CCK is such a huge hit – your pictures are so enticing! thanks

  30. Eric Jaffa says:

    Have you ever been interviewed on a radio show about vegan food? Would you probably go on a radio show if asked?

    1. I never thought about it… but yeah, I guess I’d say yes if it ever happened.

  31. Great post, Katie! I used to feel super awkward in social situations because of the way I eat, but the more comfortable I became with myself and who I am, the easier it was to talk about and share my lifestyle with others. And of course, bringing a yummy dish (or cookies/cupcakes) always helps to break the ice! 😀

  32. I love it when I take a cake to work and everyone says “can you eat this?!” in amazed voices… when I told one bloke the chocolate cake was gluten and dairy-free, he looked stunned and said “I didn’t realise it was one of your magic ones, I thought it was normal”- love it :-)

  33. Kathy says:

    I’m not really a vegetarian but have cut my meat consumption down by 90 (or more!) percent. During parties, I’ve been thinking of bringing a healthy (or healthier) dessert because I just hate eating non-healthy!
    For Thanksgiving, I’m going to try and convince my cousin to let me make the pumpkin pie!

  34. Jess says:

    These are great ideas, especially #1 and #5. I’m trying for a more balanced diet, so more protein (generally meat) and veggies; problem is, a lot of people i know don’t know how to cook veggies in a way that tastes good; whether they vegan, vegetarian, or not. I wish more people would check out these kinds a blogs to get good, healthy ideas; I try for a range or fusion myself, when catering. One of my cousin’s in vegan, so i’m the one to take that into consideration when she’s invited, and i’m catering.

  35. Lisa says:

    mmm good tips! I used to dread parties! there was never anything healthy for me to eat- just stuff lathered in butter and heavy, meaty dishes. boo!
    awkward at first, making your own stuff and bringing it, but my family is used to it now. my mom now asks me what I want for thanksgiving so I can have adequate food to eat instead of…salad. woo. *sarcasm*
    so I would also add patience to your list! with time, it can happen and everyone can be happy!!!

  36. Jennifer says:

    Such an awesome post! I am pretty much vegan; I don’t eat meat and I’m allergic to dairy. I’m ALWAYS nervous about going to meals at someone else’s house because I’m afraid that they will take it as my being rude or picky. Most people don’t realize how hard it is to avoid eating dairy, it is in almost everything you can imagine! Thanks for the great advice!

  37. Ellen says:

    I’m a vegetarian, but the only time I have trouble is when visiting family in a small town in Texas and they decided to get BBQ and everything, side dishes included has some form of meat in it. I pack Clif bars and cans of Amy’s soup when I go there. But when we go into Austin to eat, I find menus usually have some vegetarian options(hello vegetarian fajitas-YUM! I love Tex-Mex flavors). I imagine it’s even more difficult to be vegan though.

  38. Albizia says:

    I am neither vegetarian, nor a vegan but the way I eat has always been considered weird. After moving to Japan this difference got even more obvious. My colleagues often give me strange looks when they see the meals I’ve cooked at home (I guess poached eggs in spiced yogurt is a nutty combination for everyone beyond the borders of Bulgaria) and I really don’t like eating rice instead of bread so I bring my own bread in the university cafeteria -> more strange looks. For the same reason I avoid most restaurants, too. I just try not to think too much about it. I am a part of the minority, so I must take care of getting what I want myself. And I do :) .

  39. Paige says:

    I do eat differently than most of my friends, for over a year now I have been struggling with anorexia. Though I have been recovering for nearly eight months, i still eat vastly different than most of them. I eat healthy, which may not seen too vastly different, but a lot of my friends eat whatever the school provides (breaded things, white bread, canned in syrup fruit, yick!) and I bring my own lunch everyday. I also still eat a lot of “light” things. So a lot of newer people who see my habits comment “wow! you eat SO healthy!” and such. It’s a little awkward for me when people point out my habits because if they do not know of my past, things they saw can be triggering.
    Other times people who DO know my past think they need to help me find choices of things to eat, as if I don’t know what is healthy and “low cal” and what is not. Yes, I know you’re trying to help, but really, I assure you i know just as much about this topic as you do. Please leave me to find things for myself.

    Anyhow, that’s kind of long, but it happens quite often.

  40. It’s always so difficult, isn’t it? I always hope no one asks me while I’m actually eating, because I don’t want to say to them “I don’t like to eat dead carcasses for food” while they’re indulging in meat. How bad would that be? But it’s the truth…so instead I just politely say it’s because I love animals or it’s for moral reasons and stay vague and hope they leave it at that. No one likes a preacher, that’s for sure, and I find that preaching only alienates people more! By being as normal and friendly as I can be I find people are more receptive to the idea of vegetarianism!

    Thanks for the post though, it’s one that I’m sure a lot of people toying with the idea of becoming veggie have questions about!

  41. Tara says:

    Most of my family and friends are extremely supportive and excited to try my vegetarian and vegan treats! I try to show them just how easy it is to eat healthy and with a conscience.

    Chocolate pumpkin pie sounds awesome. Can you believe you just made me excited for Monday!? I didn’t think it was possible!

  42. Liz says:

    I don’t follow any different diet than just what the food pyramid recommends and what my moderation allows me! My family always gives me credit for my great self control, but sometimes they will be like.. just eat it… you worked out… your fine… but I am usually fulll at that point.. so that is when I make a smart choice! My friends always just call me a health nut and sometimes give me crap.. there is a time and a place for dessert… and it has to be worth it!

  43. Ashley says:

    I have vegan cousins who bring their own food to holidays (tofurkey, salad, vegan pie) and they always have enough to share :)

  44. Aja says:

    I am the only vegetarian/vegan out of my friends and family. Thanksgiving is going to be interesting.

  45. C&C Cakery says:

    I’m a vegan who really leans to towards raw food. The top questions people ask me “Where do you get your protein?”, “Where do you get your calcium?”, and, my personal favourite, “What do you eat??”. I point out facts like a serving of almonds has more protein than that cheese your munching on, and the fact that my body can get more calcium from my leafy greens then it can from a cup of milk. I do tend to go on a rampage when I’m met with complete defiance and ignorance – those “just eat a goddamn steak” types, but I gotta remember I can only educate so much.

    Lately, though, I’ve also butted heads with other vegans who just eat junk (empty carbs – cereal and pasta – with little greens and veg) and ones who load their diet with fakey food (too much modified soy, meat replacers, earth balance, etc). Everyone has their own way of eating, I guess!

  46. jenn says:

    I L O V E your site.

    It give me reason to eat the thing I love, just healthier.

    I have to opposite problem….I am over weight. I look at food and instantly gain 20lbs. So this website has given me reason to indulge… one needs to know my little secret. Plus the healthy DDDEEEEELLLLIIIIIICCCIOUOS recipes I found on Pinterest for everyday meals has turned me into a new woman. A woman who wants to make healthy, yet go on a limb and try something new and dessert! who does not love dessert!

    So thank you Katie, you have added to my de-chub club… adding in your recipes of goodness!
    I have alread gone to the store and stocked up on the essentials……so whether you know it or whether you like it, you have become part of de-chub-jenn cheerleading club.


    1. Awww! I am so glad you found me :). Everyone deserves to eat dessert!! I don’t care what those diet books say! 😉

  47. It’s hard being the “health freak” in a group of people, but you’re right. They’re really not scrutinizing our every move, so why sweat it? Thanks for the tips!

  48. This is a great post! I’m only a vegetarian and not a vegan, but I know it can sometimes be tough to reconcile your eating habits with those of others. I’m going to someone ele’s house for Thanksgiving, so I will definitely have to keep some of these in mind while the turkey gets served.

  49. Mary says:

    Great post! Thank you! This does come up more often this time of year. It can be tricky when you go to dinner parties where most of the people there you will be meeting for the first time. I’ve run in to situations where people are offended by my choosing not to eat something they’ve made. I’m a people pleaser – so usually feel especially guilty when this happens. But I don’t want to compromise my beliefs (or eat something that’s not appearling to me!) to make someone else happy. Have you run in to this before? How do you handle it?

    1. By now, all my friends and family pretty much know I’m a vegan. So it hasn’t really come up where they’ve made me something I can’t eat. It did happen once, many years ago, where my mom made me vegan chocolate-chip cookies and they turned out to have milk in the chocolate chips. I decided to eat them anyway and not say anything (and then I was sure to later mention to my mom that vegans need to look out for vegan chocolate chips). She was so well-meaning; I just couldn’t tell her the truth and refuse to eat them over a tiny trace amount of dairy.

  50. I recently went gluten-free and (mostly) vegan due to what I thought were food allergies. I ate that diet for 6 or so months and finally went to an allergist who told me that I didn’t actually have any food allergies. I’m so used to my healthy diet though (and I’ve dropped 20 pounds!) that I’m going to keep it the way it is, but give myself grace when I go out to eat with friends occasionally. I swear thinking I had allergies was the best thing that ever happened to my health.

  51. I’ve been a vegan for many years so my family and friends mostly know the drill. I also eat before going to parties just in case there isn’t anything for me there.

    As for Thanksgiving, my inlaws get me tofurkey and delicious sides (sweet potato, asparagus, etc.) and I make my favorite roasted garlic, apple, butternut squash soup. So easy and delicous! And I bring a vegan chocolate mousse pie for dessert.

    Nothing like watching my mother-in-law’s friends eat my pie made with tofu and say, “hm… this is soooo good!” LOL

  52. Joy says:

    As a vegan who is finding that I need to be gluten free as well I definitely eat different than most people in my life BUT I’m known for making good soups so I always bring a good hearty soup places (although this yet my friend whose house we are headed to is so excited for her vegan challenge)

  53. Heather says:

    Katie, thank you for this post! I just transitioned to being vegetarian a couple months ago and I’m still figuring out how to tell people I’m vegetarian without making them or me uncomfortable. I’m apprehensive about Thanksgiving with my meat-loving Texan family this year, but I’m glad to hear about how you handle get-togethers. It’s encouraging to know I’m not the only one!

  54. J.Godbolt says:

    Well done once again, I think I want some dessert right now

  55. Ali says:

    I’ve been a vegetarian for over 15 years, and 99% of the time I never have a problem when going to social gatherings. Sometimes it just takes being flexible and creative ;). Great tips!

  56. I really enjoy bringing vegan dishes to gatherings, and then not telling people till after that its vegan. I feel like theirs a stigma against foods that are ‘healthy’ or ‘different’ to people. I always love the reaction when the MmMmMmmm about good food and then how surprised they are after i tell them what it is!

  57. My favorite comment was from my Great Aunt who said, ” I hope you are able to stay healthy without eating any gluten”.

  58. Rebecca says:

    This was my first vegan thanksgiving, and I did get a comment from my grandmother that I should eat red meat…though I gave it up a year and a half ago :/ Like you, I have found that young people (those around my age) are much more accepting of my choice. I love your show-off tip, and I do that a lot! A lot of people ask (even beg 😉 for my baking and it surprises them its vegan.

  59. Kelly says:

    I think all of the above makes sense but I would add that before I ever bring a dish (generally because I like to try new things and share) I always ask the host if it’s okay and if they have some recommendations about what I could bring. I think the only unintended side effect of bringing your own food is that it can create the impression that you’re too good for whatever is being served. Obviously I would never think that is what you’re trying to communicate, but it can come across that way. I know that when I spend a lot of time conceiving a menu and making it, it can hurt my feelings if guests don’t try things. You might find that your host may even be willing to make accommodations so that you can eat what everyone else is eating. I have a friend who is vegetarian and most of our friends go out of their way to make sure there are things she can eat.

    1. Oh wow, that’s a really good point!
      I should definitely have specified that I was thinking of potluck-style parties (which is what most of my friends’ parties are), where everyone is expected to contribute.
      You’re right; at a dinner party, where only the host is cooking, it’d just be weird and rude to just show up with your own food!

  60. julie says:

    This post should be called “How to Hide your ED During the Holidays”. Get some help girl.

    1. Heather says:

      Julie – stop being rude and judgmental. You don’t have to read this blog if it doesn’t interest you or pertain to you. Katie – I really appreciated this post, as a new vegetarian. Keep on keeping on!

    2. von Hufflepuff says:

      clearly you have an issue not binging during the holidays. you could learn a lot from this blog

  61. Pam says:

    I did something similiar at Thanksgiving. I know how traditional my sister and brother-in-law are and both of them being severe diabetics. I made a sugar-free pumpkin custard pie that is absolutely AWESOME!!! I take the tofu and sugar-free pumpkin pudding mix throughly in the food processor (it seems to do better than the mixer). Then take another tofu package mix with sugar free vanilla pudding as the “topping”. Put in a pie crust that I made that is sugar free. They were amazed – I told them what they were eating when they were about 3/4 done with their piece. They raved about the pie . It was very interesting!!!!! Good for you, low calorie and high protein.

  62. von Hufflepuff says:

    Great post Katie! my friends are always laughing at me because I eat loads of veggies and pack all my own food on road trips. I’ve had people make some hurtful comments before, but truthfully I just love eating healthy and don’t crave junk food. your confidence to stick with your vegan diet and not “preach” but “encourage” others is something I strive for

  63. Katie says:

    My problem is that so many of my family members/friends either know or suspect of my ED past, so my vegetarianism for the past two years has been interpreted in a negative light, as just one of my weird food “fads” or habits. But this isn’t true! vegetarianism has actually really helped me in my recovery because I now no longer have to feel any guilt over food. But try bringing THAT up at the family dinner table!

  64. laura says:

    I know EXACTLY how you feel I and love love love all your tips!!!
    I developed a major intolerance to gluten and dairy this summer, and when I came back to school people just assumed I’m “dieting” because I’m skinny, but I’m like Katie and struggle to keep weight on even if I consume a huge amount of calories! I hate feeling like the weird girl eating her food in the corner, or having to oder special meets when our department holds seminar speakers. I can’t help my digestion system but I am so sick of being judged by others.

  65. Sarah says:

    Being extremely health conscious compared to my friends and family, i was definitely put on the hot seat quite a bit. Thanksgiving dinner was pretty uncomfortable and as expected, the whole family was making fun of my diet. My dishes were the ones that no one one tried or complimented, and i was sad because i love to cook and see other people enjoy my cooking. I even baked your pumpkin cheesecake bars, but no one wanted to try them because it sat next to an actual homemade pumpkin cheesecake. I’m planning on bringing out the big guns for Christmas dinner and dessert. In your experience, what is the most popular dessert you have served to a group of regular eaters ? A dessert that people just have to try and ask for the recipe?

    1. Laura says:

      Hello Sarah,

      I am on the exact same page as you and always feel frustrated around others who don’t see the benefits of my healthy lifestyle. I’ve made quite a few desserts before that people don’t want to try because they know I make things “too healthy”!! However the Reese Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups ( made using either the ingredients listed or good quality dark chocolate (min 70%) and real organic natural peanut butter is always a huge hit at parties, especially for those who are gluten and lactose intolerant like myself :)

      1. Sarah says:

        Perfect ! I will definitely make those. Keep me updated if you find any other party favorites that get eaten without weird looks :) Thank you so much !!

  66. Haley says:

    I love, love, love this post! There are a few vegans or vegetarians that get a snobby and holier-than-thou attitude, that gives others a generally bad feeling about ALL vegans. Not fair :( But, I agree with you completely here. I love the tips, and will try some of them this Christmas (my family, super-carnivores, are always picking on me for being the vegan).