The holiday season is always a greatly anticipated time of the year.
It is a perfect occasion to enjoy friends, family, and food.
It is a moment to pause and think about our goals and what we want to achieve in the New Year.
And it is also a time of reflection, where each of us honors and celebrates our individual beliefs, faiths, and/or spiritual paths.
Simply put, the holiday season is the symbol of love, transition, and tolerance.
It is the latter of these three that I would like to focus on today, along with sharing a unique and fun Holiday Menu with plant-based recipes for your special festive gathering.
The Definition of Tolerance
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the definition of tolerance is to show “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.”
Tolerance is all about having compassion and sensitivity regarding the viewpoints and perspectives of others.
Tolerance is sadly often in short supply, despite being much needed in today’s world.
What better time to think about and practice tolerance than during the holidays—a season that symbolizes love, yet is celebrated in so many divergent ways depending on your beliefs.
This year we have a unique opportunity to practice tolerance and enjoy cultural differences as two of the world’s faiths celebrate their holiday festivities on the same day; the first night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve both fall on December 24th!
Remembering What We Share in Common
One of the tenets of tolerance is that, instead of battling over our differences, we marvel in what we share in common.
A simple example can be seen in the classic symbols of the holiday season which have universal meaning regardless of belief system:
- Angels: As glowing emblems, angels represent the return of light in the coming season.
- Bells: An ancient symbol of protection, bells have been known to be rung in an attempt to ward off negativity and brighten the mood.
- Candles: A representation of the sun and also the arrival of the new season.
- Holly/Ivy: Holly and ivy seen together during the holidays are meant to represent harmony.
Food: The Ultimate Holiday Theme That Unites Us
The one symbol that we share the most during this season of love is food!
No matter what our religion or beliefs, this is the time to gather around the table with friends and family and enjoy the warmth and nourishment of a shared meal.
In fact, the role of food during the holiday season goes well beyond just the eating part; we also spend countless hours together shopping for, cooking and talking about food before we ever sit down to break bread.
Of course, the type of food people eat around the globe varies greatly.
And even though many traditional holiday dishes still remain animal-based (versus whole food, plant-based), some seasonal eating traditions include foods like roasted chestnuts in Denmark and the UK, beetroot soup in Poland, rice and lentils in Brazil, and cranberry sauce in the US.
The Holidays and Plant-Based Diets
When you are invited to a holiday celebration, which you know beforehand will include many animal-based foods, you should bring a plant-based dish with you.
Besides being a nice gesture towards your host, it will also give guests a taste of how delicious plant-based holiday dishes can be and allow you to eat plant-based without feeling awkward.
And if you are looking for some great plant-based recipes to try this holiday season, we have prepared a special menu to make it easy. Just go here to download your very own copy.
Other People’s Food Choices
During this season, it is inevitable that people will comment on your plant-based lifestyle because it is ‘different’ from traditional holiday fare.
By the same token, it might be tempting for you to judge others’ dietary choices, particularly if they are indulging in unhealthful eating habits.
Despite this, it is important (crucial!) that we practice tolerance by suspending judgment and accepting the eating preferences of others even when they do not match our own.
Having said that, it is fine to encourage others and discuss the benefits of following a whole food, plant-based diet. However, it is important not to expect that people will necessarily (or immediately!) follow suit.
We need to embrace people as they are and replace criticism with love and grace.
I invite all of us—in the spirit of this most beautiful season—to focus on what unites us rather than on what divides us.
Together let’s celebrate our spirituality and beliefs (whatever they may be) and enjoy gathering with family and friends around a table laden with delicious food.
And if you need some delicious plant-based recipes, download our Holiday Menu before heading to the grocery store!
Happy holidays to you and yours!