When I decided to go vegan, it was the beginning of November. I was a part of the #Last90daychallenge , and having mastered my 1st month of no alcohol (for a quick check) I decided to up the game so to speak! Animal cruelty, the meat crisis approaching quickly, the benefits living a vegan lifestyle has for the planet, and my past failures of trying to become vegetarian all motivated me to choose to take the plunge into embracing fully the vegan lifestyle. I will admit there were a few Netflix documentaries, Instagram accounts, blog post, and podcast that all encouraged this journey also. It’s been an empowering movement that I am excited to wake up and be a part of everyday… and then I realized Thanksgiving was right around the corner. Then the dread set in.
In my small town it’s probably exactly how you would imagine it. Apart from the beach, the wild ponies, and the occasional rocket launches, we are your average “small town USA.” In my small town if you are a vegetarian you are automatically categized as “one of those green people.” Most natives don’t even know what #vegan means! Although there are a handful of people interested in personal growth, most folks around here go with the flow, and change can be shocking or scary to them. When picturing explaining to my family why I made my own plate, or why I decided to choose this new lifestyle, or what exactly are you eating… my mind started racing with the questions that I should prepare for.
“You don’t need a diet.” “How do you get your protein?” “Don’t you get tired of vegetables?” “What is vegan?” “How long is this going to last?” “I could never do that!” “What will you eat when you’re with us, we aren’t interested in trying this out?”
The anxiety set in and so did the start of the resentment of going to a family dinner. Does anyone else get in their own head and make everything worse than it actually needs to be? Well that WAS me! Full force. Literally dreading Thanksgiving Dinner, not wanting to see my family, trying to figure out how I was going to hide the preparation of my own plate, over-thinking, researching, and typing out questions and answers on index cards so I was overly prepared for all the questions I just knew were going to come my way…. Then I had an epiphany.
After days of dreading, planning, shopping, over-preparing, and recipe hunting, Thanksgiving morning arrived, and I began prepping my meal. I started around 6 AM and didn’t finish until around 1 PM. I let the boys sleep in while I started my meal prep. Around 9 AM Jax came out from his bedroom and asked if we could watch the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade, and of course there is no way to say no to a sweet boy who wants to spend time with his mamma. We flipped the tv on and immediately his eyes lit up! Every balloon brought him so much joy, he was glued to the tv in awe, and I couldn’t help but flash back to my childhood. Going over to my Mom Mom’s house to help her prepare our meal. Now for the most part ALL kids (young and old) love the holidays. Of course, the memories made are unforgettable (for better or for worse), but the family coming together, the hope in the air, the themed decorations, it was always so magical! “Why are things so different now?” I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could feel that way again?” and then it hit me. Why can’t it be that way? Who is stopping your joy? Is it really the opinions you think your family members are going to throw your way, or the stress we put on ourselves to make everything seem perfect even though we know that is not an achievable goal, or is it just the voice in your head that defeats your joy?
And there it is. It’s just the voice in my head trying to defeat my joy. Right then, right there, I decided not another day was I going to let my head defeat my joy. Letting my thoughts hold me back from the joys of something that I loved so much as a child seem like something you would never necessarily let happen intentionally, but some how the older we get this tends to happen without us even realizing. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I started brain storming on all the things that could make this holiday easy and enjoyable. Meal prep (check), family time (check), wait… I was already doing everything I was supposed to what else could I do? Family opinions. That was what I was trying to avoid, but how in the world was I supposed to fix my family? That would take years of therapy that I clearly didn’t have time for, so I resorted to my favorite technique, frontloading. I frontload everything from my calendar, my social media post, work projects, even with Jax to help him be more prepared for his day. I immediately called my father, who was already with the whole family, and had the most straight forward conversation about my expectations this holiday. Thinking back now I don’t even think I let him get a word in, I just spoke from the heart about my worries and asked him to make sure everyone would “play nice.” At the end of my rant he said he understood and that he would make sure that everyone was respectful.
There went another weight. I instantly decided if that didn’t work that I didn’t care about those opinions and I decided that I couldn’t and wouldn’t let it bother me. After we finished up the parade, I rallied Jax and Dustin together and we headed over to the beach. Every Thanksgiving weekend they open a special access road that allows you to travel to Ocean City on a one-way dirt road that isn’t usually accessible to the general public. We saw ponies, birds, creeks, and the whole island from way we don’t usually get to experience it. It took about two hours but looking back those moments set the whole tone for the evening we had ahead of us. We headed back to the house hearts full and bellies empty, changed our clothes, I grabbed my vegan dinner, and we headed out the door.
The Main Event
When we arrived, I helped my father prepared the last items. Family began to arrive and the voice in the back of my head started to speak up. “Oh, here we go let’s see what they are going to open with…” I silenced the voice reminding myself of “OPO” and what was important to me. Before I knew it, we had prayed, and it was time to eat. While the others went through the buffet, we had set up I went to the kitchen, heated my meal up, and made my way back to the table. To my surprise I had compliments on how good my food smelled and how full my plate was. I was never a huge eater until I became vegan. I’m not sure if it’s because I plan my meals now or if it’s because the food fuels your body in a way I haven’t experienced before (but that’s a post for another time). I ate every bit and enjoyed the whole dinner surrounded with my family. This may seem like a normal statement for most, but for our family this was a true accomplishment. Were their “how do you get your protein?” questions… Of course, but I was prepared and answered them with confidence. Looking back now I’ve come to the realization that although we all have our own version of a nagging Aunt they only speak with concern and just need some education about a new lifestyle they’ve never heard of let alone knowing anyone who has tried to embrace it.
What I learned:
1. Stop Over-Thinking
2. Believe In Yourself
3. Eat ALL the Food
4. Do Your Research – Four Aunt Debbie’s Sake
5. Enjoy the Day – These Memories Will Last A Life-Time Don’t Ruin It!
 What the Health, Food, Inc., & Rotten just to name a few. Also try Amazon Prime!
 @LiveKindlyCo @BrandlessLife @weareveganuary
 The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes: The Secret to Self-Worth with Alicia Silverstone
 Other People’s Opinions – Rachel Hollis
#aceyourday #aceyourstyle #anaceaday #vegan #chooseethically #thanksgiving #mealprep #family #grateful #thankful #blessed #civa #veganeats #islandlife #holiday #dinnertime #eatlocal #buylocal #belocal #ibuylocal #esva #fortheworld #fresh #veggies #lifeiswork #mykindorganics