The Merry Vegan

People-Pleasing Holiday Sweets

by Julie Peterson

The holidays may send too many sugar plums and frosted gingerbread figures dancing in the heads of people with dietary restrictions. Anyone that chooses to avoid highly processed flours or sugars, artificial ingredients and loads of butter will typically be presented with all of this and more at social gatherings this time of year. They arrive on visually appealing cookie platters that tempt with their cute shapes, vibrant colors and sparkle.

Some, like the gingerbread and reindeer cutouts, will beckon with glazed eyes: “Just one,” they whisper. But one can turn into nine and make someone that may normally avoid sugar or gluten feel bodily regrets. Someone that is vegan or allergic may feel they can’t have treats.

Making healthier choices about food is difficult for reasons many don’t understand. “People have relationships with food—involving family, comfort and traditions—and they don’t want to give that up,” says James Brandon, of Tampa, founder of Facebook’s Vegan and Plant-Based Beginner’s Community. Brandon says that holiday treats are tough to resist, but staying true to health goals is most important in the long run.

The best defense to avoid frustration at social food events is to bring a dish to share that meets your dietary needs, says Megan Gilmore, the author of No Excuses Detox: 100 Recipes to Help You Eat Healthy Every Day and a blogger at Detoxinista.com. “That way, you can introduce something delicious to your friends, family or co-workers and be sure you’ll have something to eat!”

A batch of simple, delectable, visually appealing and healthful cookies can be that plate to share, a gift to give or something to keep on hand for guests. Keep the focus on simple, advises Pamela Reed, who blogs at BrooklynFarmGirl.com. There are plenty of recipes that will satisfy the sweet tooth and decorate the holiday buffet (until they’re all eaten, that is). Don’t increase holiday stress by trying a new recipe at the last minute. “Stick with your favorite recipes that you know are going to be a success and are going to leave everyone’s taste buds happy,” she says.

Transitioning to a more conscious way of eating isn’t about deprivation or leaving tradition behind. Bring on the new and healthful cookie recipes and name one after your grandma.

Julie Peterson writes from her home in rural Wisconsin. Contact her at JuliePeterson2222@gmail.com.