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19 Nov 2021

A Millennial Voice: No Holiday Ham

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November 19, 2021 Category: Commentary Posted by:

By Danaé Reid

Danaé Reid

New and innovative dietary changes have affected the world over the past 20 years in such unique ways that the holiday season tends to become a frenzy for more reasons than one.

When I first began my vegetarian journey in July 2017, I knew what I was giving up, but I didn’t realize that with that decision, my family would have to make some adjustments as well. The “me” that threw down on everything except the traditional holiday ham had now adopted a restricted diet that applied to meals and desserts alike. 


For many cultures, food is the core of family, and feeding someone is how you show that you love and care for them. This definitely adds to the already alluring holiday season that many Americans are accustomed to — my family is no different.

My first few vegetarian holiday events were filled with jokes about eating rabbit food, and my grandfather offering me a pork chop on several separate occasions. But even with that, my family made sure that I had savory vegetables and meatless meals to chow down on while they enjoyed a turkey, greens marinated with hambone, and so forth. Now, here we are four years later, about to embark on yet another holiday season and I can’t help but notice how the Thanksgiving and Christmas menu has expanded in that time.

Our country is much more focused on health than it used to be, so I presume that many holiday tables look different than what they used to. However, mine has changed and expanded in such inclusive ways that I don’t have to be relegated to just sides, and my family has also made an effort to eat a bit cleaner themselves both in and out of the festive season.

Many of them will share with me how they’ve cut back on meat significantly in their day-to-day lives, thus making it easier for people like me to be understood and included in holiday festivities.

Most of my favorite vegetarian holiday meals are just traditional bites without the meat aspect. For example, my mom will make me holiday meatballs, but instead of using regular meatballs, she’ll use Beyond Burger meatballs with the same recipe or my grandmother will amend her chip dip to not include a pork base (which most people don’t know that it has).

These two thoughtful gestures alone have made the holidays equally as enjoyable for me as everyone else. In an effort to save someone else from the frustration that can come with being the only vegetarian or vegan in the family, or those who want to make sure their meatless family member is well fed, I wanted to share some resources for those who are trying to be more conscious this holiday season. 

1.  Vegetarian Stuffing: While stuffing has never been on my personal list of delicacies, I know it’s a staple for many people, so if you’re looking to go meatless this holiday season or even to just cut back in an efficient, healthy and easy way, I recommend trying this recipe from 

2.  Vegetarian Gravy: I love gravy, and was really disappointed when I found out that the base of it typically is beef or pork because that meant that I had to stop eating it. Until one day when my mom concocted a recipe that was vegetarian, and now I swear by it! After doing my research online, I found that there are a multitude of other vegetarian recipes out there for us all to try. This particular recipe, also courtesy of, would pair well with the vegetarian stuffing, some mashed potatoes, and/or a nice helping of Tofurky (vegan turkey). 

3.  Vegan Meatballs: Vegan meatballs have been a hit at our family holiday parties for the last few years and I always anticipate them. In fact, even my family members who do still eat meat always gravitate to my mini crock pot filled with these rotund balls of savory goodness. The meatballs work great as an appetizer, or if you’re like me you can make mini meatball sandwiches with Hawaiian rolls to go with your multitude of vegetarian friendly sides. (Recipe courtesy of Jessica in The Kitchen) 

4.  Vegetarian Lasagna: Vegetarian lasagna is a perfect main dish alternative if you haven’t found the perfect meatless substitute for your turkey/ham/etc. This easy to make dish is sure to fill you up and will ensure that you have more than just sides and vegetables as your meal. Instead of fiddling around with your kale and sweet potatoes until everyone is done with their more filling meal, adding this to the menu will keep you at the table for as long as everyone else! (Recipe courtesy of Cookie + Kate) 

5. Classic Vegan Apple Cobbler: This vegan apple cobbler will make it so you’re not even missing the real thing! Most pastries are made with dairy products, and while milk seems to be a lesser concern for most as it pertains to health, many of us are either intolerant to it or try to reduce the use of dairy for very valid health reasons. Because the world is changing so rapidly, you can usually find dairy and egg substitutes for desserts just like this one. The trick is finding ones that you like. (Recipe courtesy of My Darling Vegan)  

Diversify your table this holiday season by considering some meat and dairy alternatives for those in your life who may want to eat healthier, cut back, etc. They’ll appreciate it more than you even know. 

Make all of your loved ones feel included this holiday season.

Disclaimer:  The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, The Philadelphia Sunday SUN, the author’s organization, committee or other group or individual.

Disclaimer:  The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, The Philadelphia Sunday SUN, the author’s organization, committee or other group or individual.

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